Animal magic as late-night shopping launches in Sunderland

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SHOPPERS got more than they bargained for when The Bridges shopping centre threw open its doors after hours.

They were able to get their hands on snakes and creepy crawlies, thanks to a visit from Discovery Zoo.

The creatures were there to mark the launch of late-night shopping evenings at the centre.

Each Thursday, selected stores will remain open until 8pm, with free parking in council-run car parks from 3pm and in The Bridges from 5.30pm.

It is part of Sunderland Business Improvement District (Bid)’s drive to boost the city’s evening economy.

Gemma Dishman, marketing and communications manager for the Bid, said: “We’ve been pleased with the turnout so far. We’ve provided entertainment to encourage people to come down and make them realise they don’t have to go outside of the area for late-night shopping.

“We are realistic and realise we can’t start with five nights a week. This is a long-term project and we’re building links with bars and restaurants for the future.”

A programme of free entertainment will take place on Thursday evenings at The Bridges throughout this month.