TOWN centre shops are to stay open until 8pm on Thursday, December 5 to encourage people to shop locally.

The late-night shopping event will feature an appearance by Father Christmas, a local choir and a chestnut seller.

To encourage people to visit the shops shoppers will be given a raffle ticket for a prize draw with any purchase from a participating shop.

The raffle prizes have yet to be finalised, but will include beauty, home wear and dinner, bed and breakfast at any Flat Cap Hotel.

The raffle will be drawn by town mayor Cllr Andrew Malloy on the steps of The Courthouse.

The evening could also offer beauty and hair sessions, wreath-making workshops, mulled wine and food tastings and a gift-wrapping service.

Knutsford Market Hall will also stay open, with the evening being organised by Knutsford One, supported by town centre manager Sandra Curties.

“2019 has been a difficult year for UK retail generally, and Knutsford is not immune to this, with the current vacancy rate around six per cent,” said Sandra.

“This event is to encourage residents and visitors alike to shop in Knutsford, to reinforce the message that much of their Christmas shopping can be done locally and promote that many bricks and mortar shops also offer a click and collect or online service.”

The evening is set to be promoted via social media and shops, as well as a leaflet and poster campaign funded by the town council at a cost of £680 for poster and leaflet design, printing 10,000 leaflets and delivering them door to door.

The council’s Events and Town Centre Management Committee is set to deliver the Pumpkin Path at £400 under budget thanks to sponsorship from local businesses, and generated an additional £80 surplus on the production of the 2019 shopping map.