Festive high-street footfall figures up across county as national statistics dip
14:50 01 February 2016
Copyright Archant Norfolk 2015
Norfolk’s key shopping areas have bucked the national trend to see an increase in visitor numbers over the Christmas period.
Great Yarmouth, Norwich and King’s Lynn all saw a rise in footfall in December while nationally, figures slumped.
In Norwich, footfall figures stood at nearly two million in December 2015, up 4.3pc on the same period a year earlier.
Meanwhile, in Great Yarmouth, December’s footfall increased by 1pc and in King’s Lynn the figures rose by 5.2pc.
The county-wide increases are in stark contrast to figures nationally which show an overall decline in high street footfall of 4pc.
The British Retail Consortium’s report for the month of December 2015 cites a greater move to online shopping as a factor in the decline nationally.
In Norfolk a raft of specific events have helped draw visitors into town centres.
Jonathan Newman, town centre manager for Great Yarmouth Town Centre Partnership, said: “Overall, the town centre was up in December and that was against some difficult conditions including wet and windy weather.
“This was mainly marked by a significant growth on particular days.”
The town saw a footfall increase of 25pc on the day of the Christmas lights switch on compared to 2014, while the last Wednesday before Christmas saw a rise of 10pc.
Mr Newman said: “We also benefitted from the Coca-Cola truck visit on December 9 when the footfall in the town centre was up by 48pc.
“The feedback from retailers was that this Christmas surpassed 2014.”
Across the country, department stores saw a surge in sales in December, raking in a 2.6pc increase compared to the previous year, the Office for National Statistics said.
Mr Newman said the rise in Yarmouth was down to an increased shopping offer over the festive period spurred by free car parking in the town centre, a flurry of new shops and a temporary ice rink.
In the west of the county, King’s Lynn moved its Christmas lights event to a Sunday which saw an increase of 27pc on general Sunday footfall.
Carl Hedger from King’s Lynn Business Improvement District’s (BID) steering group, said: “Footfall last year in King’s Lynn was excellent, bucking all national trends – aided immensely by the large number of summer events hosted in the town, which proved hugely popular.”
In Norwich the December increase was mirrored by traffic levels and car park usage according to Norwich BID, with one week in December seeing an increase of 17pc.
Stefan Gurney, executive director at Norwich BID, said: “Although people say there’s a transition to shopping online, the footfall and use of the city continued to increase over the Christmas period.”
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