Summer attractions are a boost to Norwich economy
PUBLISHED: 07:00 16 August 2013
Bosses of Norwich’s business improvement district have hailed a series of city-centre summer events and warm weather for helping to boost footfall in the city as new figures show that the July heatwave boosted retail sales in the last month.
According to the Office of National Statistics, retail sales rose 1.1pc in July on a month earlier and were up 3pc on July 2012 – the steepest rise for two and a half years – driven by soaring sales at supermarkets and department stores. Soaring temperatures boosted sales of food, alcohol and clothing in July to fuel hopes over the recovery in consumer spending as the heatwave saw shoppers stock up on barbecue goods to drive food sales volumes up 2.1pc.
Stefan Gurney, executive director of the Norwich Business Improve-ment District (BID), said Norwich was enjoying increased footfall figures compared to the same time period as last year.
He said: “Increases in footfall have been steadily growing since June 10 with figures for the first week of July up 7pc followed a 10pc increase in the following week, and a consistent 6pc rise in the following weeks of the month.”
But he added that a number of initiatives had also helped to play a part. “This year’s great British summer has seen a dramatic increase in people using the city centre with lots of superb activities, such as the early evening street performers,” Mr Gurney said. “This has been reflected in strong retail sales and a real continental café culture feel, adding to our vibrant city centre offering.
“Norwich has seen numerous events take place in the city which can be linked to the increases in footfall. GoGoGorillas commenced on June 24, the Lord Mayor’s Celebrations kicked off on July 4 and the BID Norwich evenings street entertainment started on July 11.
“The Norwich BID has been supporting the early evening leisure sector by putting on free Thursday evening events in strategic locations covering Timberhill, Gentle-man’s Walk and St Georges Street encouraging people to stay in the city and to take advantage of late-night shopping, and bars, restaurants, cafés and theatres.
“The events have seen a significant increase in footfall compared to 2012. Last year footfall on Thursday, July 19 between 4pm and 8pm was 7,500, while on July 18 and July 25 this year this increased to well over 12,000.”
Meanwhile the national gain was well ahead of economists’ average hopes for a 0.7pc month-on-month increase and will add to hopes that overall third-quarter GDP growth can exceed the 0.6pc gain seen in the April to June quarter. It was the third straight increase in month-on-month retail sales, after June’s 0.2pc rise.
The figures suggest a likely boost from the birth of Prince George and British sporting success, including Andy Murray’s Wimbledon victory, Lions rugby, and Ashes cricket.
Department stores saw July sales surge 3.1pc on a year earlier, while sales of textiles, clothing and footwear were up 1.4pc.
Supermarkets also reported higher sales of garden furniture, although household goods stores were a rare weak spot, down 2.3pc on a year earlier. Overall sales grew 2.5pc.