Tills at the Merry Hill Shopping Centre will be ringing until midnight for the first time ever this year in the run-up to Christmas, bosses have announced. Every store will stay open until midnight in the week building up to the celebrations. Last year the centre was heaving with customers until 10pm.
Shop owners are predicting the longer hours will be popular with people hunting for last minute gifts.
Bosses at the Westfield-run centre announced today from December 18, it will be open for 15 hours a day from Monday to Saturday. The centre will open its doors at 9am and shut at midnight.
It will close at 5pm on Christmas Eve and be shut on Christmas Day, reopening on Boxing Day.
The 10pm closing times come into force Monday to Friday from November 13, and until 8pm on Saturday and 5pm on Sunday.
The announcement has split opinion among shoppers and traders, with many shop staff said to be unhappy about the move.
Emma Johnson, who shops regularly at Merry Hill, said: "I am a mum and also work so there is very often not enough time in the day.
"I think opening for an extra couple of hours in the last Christmas week is an excellent idea to give people the extra time to grab those last-minute Christmas gifts."
New Look manager Kirsty Cox added: "I think it is great. Last year we could'nt get customers out of the door when we closed at 10pm, so I think it will be really, really busy."
Marks & Spencer boss Chris Oliver said her store had similar problems
But Soccer World supervisor Trudy Richards said she did not think shoppers would still be out buying presents at midnight.
She added: "We are open until 10pm anyway from November.
"I don't think there will be many members of staff who work at the Merry Hill centre who will be happy about this."
By Wayne Beese
Do you welcome longer Christmas shopping hours? Or have things gone too far? Send us your views, including your name and address, by clicking here
Instead of indulging in this materialist feeding frenzy we call Christmas shopping, ponder instead the true meaning of Christmas. Namely, the birth of Jesus, the Saviour of all mankind - surely a gift from God that is more precious than anything sold in the shops at Merry Hill. Cllr Ray Burston, Halesowen
I for one am definitely against the longer opening hours as i work at Merry Hill. It is totally unfair against people with families who are forced to work until midnight, Monday to Friday. Are the buses going to run late night services to allow us people without cars a way of getting home? Then we only get to spend Christmas Day with our loved ones until we are back at work on Boxing Day facing abusive customers because they bought/received the wrong gifts. Christmas Day will soon have no meaning at all. Merry Hill will probably be at the front of the queue to open on December 25 when the government finally bans any Christian celebrations in the wake of all this politically correct nonsense. A few more years and my children won't even recognize me! A VERY disgruntled Merry Hill Employee Popular stories: