Report shows significant increase in visitors to Bury St Edmunds...
More and more people are visiting Bury St Edmunds, they are staying longer and almost all of them would recommend a visit to the town to others, according to a study commissioned by the town’s Business Improvement District (BID).
A ‘benchmarking’ study looking at the town’s prosperity also found that visitors are spending more money when they come into town and business confidence is much higher than it has been in recent years.
The findings were presented to businesses in the town centre this evening (Tuesday 23 June) at the AGM of the BID organisation Ourburystedmunds. The survey was commissioned for the fourth year running and was carried out by researchers from People and Places who questioned people visiting the town and businesses in the centre.
Chief Executive of Ourburystedmunds Mark Cordell said: “This year’s survey is incredibly positive about Bury St Edmunds, both from a business point of view and from those who visit the town centre. This year we had more than double the number of responses from town centre visitors than we have had in any previous year and we really appreciate the fact that so many people took time to give us their feedback.
“Although this is generally good news for Bury St Edmunds, the board of directors at the BID and I will be looking very closely at the areas that are recommended for improvement. Car parking has been highlighted by visitors and I am disappointed that more than half of those who responded have yet to take advantage of our Free from 3pm parking initiative on a Tuesday. Having said that, I’m very pleased to see that far fewer businesses in the town than last year indicated that parking is a major concern for them.”
In many aspects of the report, Bury St Edmunds scored well above the average for town centres regionally and nationally. The significant findings of the research included:
- Footfall has increased substantially on the last three years with the study reporting 405 people passing through the town centre every 10 minutes on a market day and 233 on non-market days. Previous best figures were 292 (in 2012) and 158 (2014). The figures are also significantly higher than the national average, or those for similar sized towns.
- Business confidence has also improved with 68% of businesses saying they had increased their turnover on last year – continuing the upward trend since the study began and 27% better than the national picture.
- Almost 75% of businesses expect their turnover to increase in the next 12 months – nearly double the figures of 2012 and 2013.
- Nearly half of those who visited the town centre stayed for between two and four hours – a 9% increase on last year and 20% higher than the national figure.
- On market days only a fifth of the town’s car parking spaces are unused rising to a third on a non-market day. These are an improvement on last year’s figures and better than the national average.
- People are spending more money than in previous years with 43% spending between £20 and £50 on a normal visit to the town.
However many of those who responded still called for an improved link between the arc shopping centre and the old town centre and wanted further provision of free car parking.
The full report will be considered by the board of Ourburystedmunds in the coming weeks.