Traders in a Melton town centre shopping mall are now opening on a Sunday for a trial period in a bid to increase their weekly takings.
The Bell Centre, off Nottingham Street, has opened for the last two Sundays, with the Time Out cafe, Mar Pets, Savers, Clintons, The Stork and Voodoo Consoles all trading.
Good footfall was reported by most of those businesses which took part the first two weekends and another has said it would consider opening if it is deemed a success.
Andrew and Ashwell, the agents for the centre, said it would open to shoppers over the summer as an experiment between 10am and 4pm and, if successful, it could be a permanent move.
The company’s Tom Meynell said: “The traders want to drum up interest because a number of units are empty.
“Historically, the Bell Centre has closed on a Sunday but some of the traders have said ‘let’s open and see how it pans out’.”
Mr Meynell said he was hopeful of filling some of the empty units - five out of the 20 are currently vacant - following a significant increase in inquiries to rent them.
He said he was seeking longer term tenants rather than short-term pop-up traders.
Mr Meynell added: “We all have our fingers crossed that the Sunday opening will continue indefinitely.
“We have seen an increase in inquiries for our vacant units, including the larger ones.
“It has been a tough time for retail but there are good signs out there now.”
Mark Robinson, owner of established Bell Centre pet shop Mar Pets, was one of those traders who pushed for the mall to open on Sundays.
He said: “We have wanted to do this for a long time and a lot of people came through the centre on the first Sunday.
“As traders we have got to try to make more money and hopefully more will open in here on Sundays .
“It would also help if some of the empty units were taken up, even if it was by pop-up traders.”
The Stork, which sells clothes and other supplies for babies and young children, has been based there for almost 30 years but had never opened on Sunday before last weekend, other than in the run-up to Christmas.
Proprietor Harun Jussab said: “Business was alright on Sunday. The centre hasn’t been open on a Sunday before but we are hoping this trial is a success.”
Savers, a chain health and beauty store, opened for business the last two Sundays and staff reported that a healthy number of shoppers came through the doors on both days.
Assistant manager Sheila Wigginton said: “I believe we were the only Savers shop out of more than 300 in the country which did not open on a Sunday.
“The first weekend was fairly quiet but this Sunday we did good business.”
Gaming retail store Voodoo Consoles opened for the first time on a Sunday this weekend and few customers visited following their later opening at 11am.
Sales assistant, Paula Whitehead, said: “The fact the country fair was on this weekend might have had an effect and I also don’t think people are aware the Bell Centre is now opening on a Sunday.”
She added that the car park being open at the rear of the centre should be an advantage for Sunday openings because shoppers will walk through to get into the town centre.
One new business in the centre - electronic cigarette retailer Juice-E-Vaporium, which has been there just six weeks - said it was considering Sunday opening.
Manager Marcus Gray said: “We don’t have the staff to open on Sundays at present. But it seems like a good idea and if it is successful for the other traders it is something we would consider.”
A spokesperson for the Salvation Army charity shop said it would never open on Sundays because of the religious ethos of the organisation.