Bury bucking national trend as town centre footfall increases

Bury St Edmunds town centre and ARC Shopping Centre - Farmers Market on Angel Hill ANL-140824-235545009
Bury St Edmunds town centre and ARC Shopping Centre - Farmers Market on Angel Hill ANL-140824-235545009

Town centre bosses have revealed visitor numbers are on the rise in Bury St Edmunds, as they prepare to announce their business plan for the next five years.

Figures commissioned by the BID (Business Improvement District) Ourburystedmunds show the footfall camera in Abbeygate Street was activated 441,017 times in September, five per cent higher than in the same month last year.

It corresponds to a footfall increase of three per cent in the first nine months of this year compared to the same period in 2013, bucking the national and regional trends of falling town centre foot traffic.

Mark Cordell, chief executive of Ourburystedmunds, said: “This is really good news for Bury St Edmunds. It shows that the town is attractive to visitors.

“We’re going in an upward direction, giving the indication that Bury is thriving.”

The Abbeygate Street camera showed the busiest time to be 2pm on a Saturday, but also revealed an increase in foot traffic on Tuesday afternoons.

The figures provide a strong springboard for the BID to launch its five-year business plan on October 28.

The plans include volunteers providing information and advice to tourists in the town centre, giving businesses more information about visitors’ shopping habits, help and advice for independent companies, and making businesses greener and more cost-effective.

Mr Cordell said: “While it is pleasing to see that Bury is doing so well compared to the rest of the region and the country, we know that we have to work hard to make our offering attractive, which is why the BID is always looking at any improvements that can be made.

“We want to provide even more services and we want, on behalf of our businesses, to have a say on greater developments in the town, to continue to make Bury a lovely place to visit.”

A national ‘vitality’ survey, devised by retail specialist Harper Dennis Hobbs, showed Bury to be the second most vital retail centre in the East of England, beaten only by Cambridge. Nationally it was ranked 67th out of 500.

The meeting to launch the BID’s five-year business plan will be held at Café del Mar, in St John’s Street, at 6pm on October 28. Attendance is free for all BID members.