It was in September 2007 that the City of Fremantle announced more than 100 retailers would open their doors for Friday night trading, bucking the norm of opening on Thursday nights and giving shoppers an alternative late-night choice heading into the weekend.
It was an announcement that was met with fanfare and a growing hope for the future of Fremantle’s retail, but it was a short-lived celebration.
Three years later, the State Government introduced extended trading hours until 9pm every weekday. As a result, Fremantle no longer had a point of difference.
Dr Pettitt said at the time that Friday night trading had been introduced after major debate in the local community and signified a major shift for the city.
‘Thursday trading was in decline as far back as then due to increased competition from suburban shopping centres and it was hoped that shifting to Friday night when more people were out in Fremantle would reinvigorate late night shopping in Fremantle,’ he said.
‘While it started well, it wasn’t maintained sufficiently as traders dropped out, making it less viable for those who continued to stay open.
‘I think people liked the idea but it didn’t work as well as was hoped.’
Dr Pettitt said while the idea of late night Friday night trading never officially went out the window in the years since its introduction, few still took part.
‘It would be fair to say that only a scattering of shops stay open late on a Friday now,’ he said.
‘Ideally I would like us to have a more diverse night time economy, not just on Friday nights but most nights of the week. I can see this emerging both as it does now on the Cappuccino Strip but also down High Street into the West end as more businesses open down that way and shops like New Edition start to open later again.
‘It will only work well if we can get good diverse clusters of shops opening later.
‘I am hopeful we start to see this emerge this summer in key areas.’
Fremantle Chamber of Commerce chief executive Tim Milsom said it was a good initiative for the time, but that new ideas had to be discussed to boost trade in Fremantle.