Research shows post-pandemic value of Bury St Edmunds town centre...
Research shows post-pandemic value of Bury St Edmunds town centre
New figures show Bury St Edmunds town centre is bouncing back well from the pandemic – although many people who visit the town now plan their shopping or social visits carefully to avoid ‘unnecessary trips’.
A survey of residents’ and visitors’ views about the town centre and how their use of it might have changed because of Covid-19 has recently been commissioned by the Business Improvement District (BID) organisation Our Bury St Edmunds. Of more than 1,100 people questioned 91% said they would recommend a visit to the town centre and almost 70% endorsed its vibrant restaurant and cafe sector – more than 35% above the average for similar sized towns pre-pandemic. And nearly 20% of those questioned would usually spend more than £50 when they come into town – 9% up on the national average.
Although 57% of respondents said they come into town at least once a week the results indicate that frequency of visits has declined because of the pandemic and other reasons such as working from home or only taking trips in to town for specific purchases rather than browsing. But others who visit the town as much or more than they previously did indicated they felt comfortable and safe in the town centre, they want to support local businesses and they felt seeing friends and family socially is now more important than before lockdown.
Our Bury St Edmunds Chief Executive Mark Cordell is encouraged by the report but accepts it’s identified areas that need improvement. He said: “The town centre has been through an immensely challenging time over the last 18 months but the comments in the survey from a number wanting to support local businesses more or feeling that they took the town centre for granted before the pandemic shows that Bury St Edmunds is valued by the people who live, work and visit here. Several commented specifically about how safe it felt with the measures that have been put in place and overall 51% rated the cleanliness of the town as a positive aspect.
“This study gives us real insight into what people think of the town including the areas where improvements need to be made. Every time we have carried out this survey the biggest issue that people raise is car parking and this year is no different with more than 40% of respondents rating parking as a negative aspect and commenting that they want more, cheaper parking. It’s something that the BID will be raising with car park providers in the town centre and bringing these specific concerns to the relevant local authorities.”
In many aspects of the report, Bury St Edmunds scored well above the national average for how large town centres performed before Covid-19. The significant findings of the research include:
• 52% of those questioned visit the town primarily for shopping and 20% mainly for socialising – in both cases around 7% higher than national figures.
• Physical appearance, cleanliness, cultural activities and retail offer all scored significantly higher as positives compared to other towns.
• 69% of respondents said cafes and restaurants were a positive aspect of the town, which is double the national average.
• Those who had used or given the Our Bury St Edmunds Gift Card said it was easy to use (92%) and that they would give it again (94%).
• 56% of those questioned spend longer than two hours on a typical visit to the town centre.
• The aspect rated highest as a negative was car parking by 42% of respondents which is broadly in line with the national average of 40%.
The study was carried out by researchers from People and Places via an online survey.
Notes for Editors:
1135 surveys were completed. 57% of those questioned said they visited Bury St Edmunds at least once a week.
Our Bury St Edmunds is one of over 300 Business Improvement Districts in the UK. It was established in April 2010 to provide a number of additional services to improve the trading environment of the town centre. It is funded by levy paying businesses within the town centre and works with other agencies, including local authorities and the police, to enhance existing services for the town including marketing and promotion, safety, cleanliness and maintenance. In November 2019 it won a ballot of member businesses to continue for a third five year term from 2020. For further information visit www.ourburystedmunds.com
For media information please contact Our Bury St Edmunds Chief Executive Mark Cordell on 077703 193511 or Our Bury St Edmunds Press and PR Consultant Clare Phillips on tel: 07947 105414 /email: firstname.lastname@example.org.