WORCESTER has what it takes to compete with other towns and cities in the region as the best place to come for Christmas shopping, a retail chief has said.

With the festive season looming, chairman of Hereford’s Business Improvement District (BID) John Jones said this week he hoped people from Worcester would make the trip over the border to do their Christmas shopping.

But head of Worcester BID – which supports shops and other companies in the city centre – Adrian Field said he believed the city has everything shoppers needed to make Christmas shopping as easy as possible.

“Christmas is a crucial time for businesses all over the country,” he said.

“Everyone’s keen to have a slice of the cake and then some.

“We expect other town and cities to try and tap our residents – everyone’s competing for the same people.”

Mr Field said Worcester BID’s Christmas advertising campaign reached as far as Solihull and he hoped shoppers from across the Midlands would travel to the city.

“We feel we’ve got a great offer in Worcester, just like Hereford say they’ve got a great offer there,” he said.

“Its competition and I would expect it. I’m sure Gloucester Quays will advertise in Worcester as well.

“We need to get people from further afield to visit Worcester and when they do I think they’ll see it’s a nice place and hopefully come back.”

Earlier this year a new £90 million shopping centre – dubbed the Old Market – opened in Hereford, with business leaders hoping it will revitalise the city’s shopping scene.

In an effort to encourage people to do their Christmas shopping in the city, Worcester City Council announced last week shoppers would be able to park for free in any of its car parks after 6pm on the first three Thursdays in December.

Drivers paying for two hours of parking on Sundays will also be able to park for the rest of the day free from November 30 until December 28.

The offer applies to all city council-run car parks, except the Corn Market while the Victorian Christmas Fair is running. Lorries and coaches parking in the Croft Road car park are also exempt from the offer.

Herefordshire Council has also announced a similar deal, offering free parking in any of its city centre car parks after 4pm on the first three Wednesdays in December. The offer also applies to the car park at the Old Market shopping centre.