Norwich footfall booming as pre-Christmas figures buck national trend

Late night Christmas shopping and lights in Norwich.PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Late night Christmas shopping and lights in Norwich.PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Thousands of extra visitors are exploring Norwich's shops, cafés and sights as footfall booms, bucking a national trend of faltering high streets.

Members of the public enjoying the tunnel of Light on Hayhill, Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Members of the public enjoying the tunnel of Light on Hayhill, Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

As Norwich shines in all its festive finery, shoppers are making the most of the Fine City, with footfall figures for the last week of November - the most recent local picture available - jumping 17pc from 360,000 last year to 420,000 this year.

Over November as a whole, the Norwich Business Improvement District (BID) numbers show footfall reached 1.5m - a 100,000 increase, 7.8pc, on the same period last year.

It continues what has already been a successful year for the city centre, with footfall for 2016 so far up 2.6pc on this point last year.

And with the national average showing a drop in footfall of 1.4pc and local visitors likely to rise as Christmas nears, tourism leaders are optimistic.

Scenes from the Norwich Christmas Lights Switch on 2016 - With Norwich City Chairman and Strictly Co

Scenes from the Norwich Christmas Lights Switch on 2016 - With Norwich City Chairman and Strictly Come Dancing contestant Ed Balls turning on the light. Picture: Matthew Usher.


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Stefan Gurney, executive director of the BID, said factors including the festive projections at the castle and new Tunnel of Light display, put on by the BID, were likely to be behind the buoyant figures.

'When we organise attractions, they certainly have a positive impact and there is definitely a feel good factor,' he said.

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But he said a number of external factors also came into play, including the strength of the economy and market.

'Norwich has such a strong retail offering and experience as a whole,' he said. 'When you come to Norwich you are not just here to do your Christmas shopping - you are here to experience the city and make a bit more of your day, whether that's to have lunch in a local café or restaurant or see the light projections at the Castle.'

It is praise echoed by Nick Bond, head of tourism at Visit Norwich, who said: 'We are not at all surprised that city centre footfall statistics are up - the volume and value of tourism day visits is also known to be increasing.

'Reasons to visit Norwich are becoming more and more compelling all the time – the shopping offer is better than ever, we are increasingly spoilt for cultural attractions and the food and drink opportunities are exceptional.'

He said more people were being reached by their marketing content, with the City of Stories blog enjoying a 160pc rise in visits against this time last year.

The footfall figures are calculated by two footfall counter cameras placed in the city centre.

• Do you have a tourism story about Norwich? Email lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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