Retailers asked for more to fund Oxford St lights

Scrooge-like retailers on London's Oxford Street are being urged to dig deep to fund a dramatic new Christmas lights display.

Plans being considered include the abandonment of traditional lights in favour of innovative 3D technology to spectacularly illuminate the West End.

Oxford Street Association director Sally Humphreys said: 'I take the view that we need a new scheme. People expect and have a right to see something new and, by providing something different this year, I hope retailers will be encouraged to invest.'

Humphreys is mulling over two design briefs, one of which would employ LED technology to create three-dimensional effects. However, the ambitious display would cost about£200,000 - around£50,000 more than last year.

Funding the Christmas lights is an annual bugbear for Humphreys, who finds it difficult to get store groups to stump up the necessary cash.

Last year's display sparked controversy when less than half the required funding was in place by the end of the summer.

Humphreys believes the 24-hour lights are a vital component in bringing Christmas cheer to the capital's shoppers. Although leading retailers, such as Selfridges, Debenhams, House of Fraser, Arcadia and the John Lewis Partnership always pitch in, many stores do not.

'There are many on Oxford Street who don't contribute,' said Humphreys.

'To me it would be unthinkable to have no lights at Christmas. Every year people say we can't afford them, but if we didn't put them up it would crucify us.'

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