THIS is a massive day for shops in Tenbury and the start of critical weeks that could make the difference between make or break for some of them.

Tonight, two weeks later than usual, the starting pistol will fire on Christmas with a special foodie themed market to get people in the festive spirit and hopefully spending.

It marks the start of a critical three weeks for traders in the town that could make the difference between getting through the coming months or not.

The evening, full of things to do and places to shop, starts at 4pm and continues until 8pm.

This is also the first of three nights in December when shops will stay open until 7pm.

There is free parking as part of Malvern Hills District Council’s festive free parking initiative in Tenbury Swimming Pool car park or in the car park just off Teme Street.

The Tenbury Wells Foodie Thursday Night Market will take place around The Round Market on Market Street with a host of market traders offering the finest in local food and drink.

Amongst the other shops to check out are Nice Things, Harlequins, Marilyn’s, Smarty Pants and Special Occasions, to name just a few.

This is a very special day for Sarah Thompson who runs the card and gift shop Special Occasions.

It was severely damaged during the February floods and has undergone a major refurbishment that resulted in it briefly reopening again a month ago before having to close again because of the second lockdown.

This meant that sales were lost during the critical month of November although there has been some selling online.

Along with other small shops it faces having to try to sell stock that has been bought especially for Christmas in just three weeks.

With many small shops unable to return unsold stock there is the prospect of having to hold on to it for a year which takes up space and also means that money is tied up and not bringing a return.

In this position are mother and son Carol Collier and Jonathan Mullins.

The pair both run clothes shops in the town and are ready for the festive period.

They have been closed, like other non-essential shops, throughout November and are desperately hoping that there will be a splurge of spending in the coming weeks.

Both have been hit by the triple whammy of the flooding, the first lockdown and then after opening a short time the second order to shut.

They have both managed to salvage something by using ingenuity, like other shops in Tenbury, including offering a ‘call and collect’ service taking orders online and gift boxes.

“November is one of our biggest months of the year,” said Ms Collier.

“But this year if my November takings are 50 per cent of what I would normally expect then I will have done well.”