It’s always good to start a new year with optimism and Our Bury St Edmunds received good news from our footfall figures for December recently. In the week leading up to Christmas our data shows that the town was busier than at the same time in the previous two years. Coupled with the results of our benchmarking survey of businesses, shoppers and visitors to the town centre from which a couple of key points were that people tend to spend more money in town compared to the national average and that 70 per cent of businesses rated the prosperity of the town as positive – it’s very encouraging. While we know that there are still challenges in the economy, it is always useful to see how the town centre is performing compared to others nationally and regionally, especially when the results are so positive.
It’s a busy time of year in the town centre too next month with lots to look forward to not least the first ever Bury St Edmunds Comedy Festival which runs from 1 February. The Apex, Theatre Royal, Guildhall and The Hunter Club have been working hard to make this happen supported by Bury St Edmunds and Beyond and the BID. Matt Forde and Brian Bilston are just two of the big names to look forward to.
Meanwhile the eagerly anticipated Second World War series for Apple TV+, ‘Masters of the Air’ (launching today) has strong connections with the Bury St Edmunds area. The town’s tour guides have produced a special guided walk to coincide with it and it’s hoped that interest in the series will bring tourists and visitors to the town.
Also in February we’ll see the opening of Everyman Cinema in the basement of the former Debenhams at arc Shopping Centre. The building will also house the eagerly awaited Primark branch which is due to open just a few weeks later.
Of course the shopping centre also hosted the Bury St Edmunds family ice rink over the Christmas holidays. This attraction was made possible by a partnership formed of the BID, arc Shopping Centre, Bury St Edmunds Town Council and West Suffolk Council. It was also an opportunity to support Gatehouse which runs the food bank for the town and early indications suggest around £2,500 was raised to support their work.
All of us at the BID were shocked and saddened to hear of the unexpected death of Maria Broadbent the former owner of Casa. She joined our Board in 2016 bringing an energy and enthusiasm that would see her go on to chair the organisation. Our condolences to Maria’s family and loved ones.
By Mike Kirkham, Business Support Manager, Our Bury St Edmunds BID.