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Fewer people visiting the town centre as figures show a 13.4pc drop in December footfall

PUBLISHED: 10:22 01 February 2018 | UPDATED: 10:22 01 February 2018

The Vancouver Quarter, King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt

The Vancouver Quarter, King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2013

The number of people visiting King's Lynn town centre has dropped "significantly", according to a council report.

The footfall in December last year fell by 13.4pc compared to the year before, with national figures revealing an overall drop of 3.5pc across the country.

In a report to West Norfolk council, councillor Peter Hodson, cabinet member for performance, said December footfall was “disappointing” and a “significant drop”.

But he added that a number of road repairs and collisions may explain the reduced number of consumers heading to town.

Mr Hodson said: “I think we can safely put a good chunk of that down to the ongoing A47 Saddlebow Bridge repairs as well as the gridlock caused by multiple road accidents during the month just outside of town.”

The £3.1m work to repair two damaged bridges on the Saddlebow interchange in King’s Lynn began on October 23 and is due to finish in April this year.

On Friday, December 8, the A47 ground to a halt after a crash on the westbound carriageway near the Pullover roundabout. Drivers spent up to an hour getting from one end of town to the other as five mile tailbacks built up around the Hardwick Interchange.

Mr Hodson added that figures also show an increase in the number of consumers using their mobile phones to make purchases online. 
“It was recorded that sales through mobile phones have increased in the past year, with sales through iPads going down and sales through computers going down.”

Overall, the year ended with a 4.5pc drop in the number of people visiting the town centre, with 7.8m in 2017 compared to 8.2m in the previous year.

But when compared to 2015 the numbers show a 1.3pc increase, and compared to 10 years ago when footfall was first counted figures show a 19pc increase.

Mr Hodson said retailers reported a good level of trade during events such as the Christmas lights switch on and Christmas market.

He added that late night shopping during every Thursday in December has seen the town at its busiest in years.

“We are hoping to introduce a farmers market in the spring and a craft market in the Saturday Market Place, which will be done through the borough council and BID (Business Improvement District).

“We are hoping it will move things along.”

Retailers and shoppers give their views on why fewer people are visiting King’s Lynn town centre.

“Shopping in December was down from last year, but I think that’s happened all over the country,” said Liz Harrison, 46, owner of Youngsters World on Norfolk Street.

“I think less people used the town in December due to the all the road work issues and the many accidents were widely reported so people didn’t even bother trying to come into the town centre.”

Jodie Johnson, 26, and Ryan Young, 23, said they did their Christmas shopping in town but added: “It was quite dead in town compared to previous years.

“It is normally busy on Boxing Day but last month it was a ghost town.”

A 26-year-old man from Watlington, who did not want to be named, said he did his Christmas shopping online, adding: “Things that I needed weren’t available in town.

“Shopping online is the easiest way most of the time.”

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