Future of Worthing Christmas lights uncertain as traders discuss festive plans

Christmas lights in Worthing town centre
Christmas lights in Worthing town centre

The future of Worthing town-centre’s Christmas lights will be discussed after more than half of traders said the festive decorations failed to entice shoppers into town in 2019.

The lights are paid for by businesses, using a portion of funds collected through an annual levy.

But with the levy having to pay for a raft of improvements and events to increase footfall and spending in the town centre, projects are under constant review.

In a survey by the Town Centre Initiative, which represents traders, 60 per cent of business representatives felt the lights ‘did not generate additional footfall of sales for them’. On the positive side, many felt they ‘added to the ambience’ of the town.

Town centre manager Sharon Clarke said the discussion was about how to ‘do more with the money we have’.

“We will be looking at alternatives like light projections and lasers to see if these would improve the display,” she said.

“The biggest contribution for the lights come from retailers and they are only open one or two hours while they are on – so is there something that will build the festive feel daytime and evening?”

Mrs Clarke said increasing health and safety requirements were making the lights more expensive, without improving the display.

The TCI’s January newsletter said its directors welcomed ideas to keep the town looking ‘vibrant’ while controlling costs.

Mrs Clarke said there was also a debate over whether to create a single ‘wow’ area, or cover the whole town centre.

“All ideas are welcome and will be considered,” she said.

The January newsletter outlined how traders had performed over Christmas, reporting a mixed bag over the season.

It said: “Unfortunately the weather did not help attract people into the town centre but on the Saturdays leading up to Christmas the car parks were full and people were braving the elements.”

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