Boost for shops as Rotherham shopper numbers surge

ROTHERHAM town centre has emerged as the surprise package in a UK-wide survey that indicated it had experienced a 30 per cent rise in visitors.

According to market research experts Springboard, who monitor footfall in 85 towns and cities across the UK, Rotherham had experienced a massive 32.3 per cent rise in pedestrian traffic in September compared to the same period last year.

It followed a trend which saw regional towns enjoy a 1.3 per cent rise in visitors as cities experienced a 1.2 per cent fall over the same period.

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Rotherham was the stand-out success among a raft of towns, including: Mansfield (+13.4%), Grimsby (+11.3%) and Newport (+7.5%).

Diane Wehrle, research director at Springboard, said: “As consumers across the UK prepare for a tough Christmas, many are cutting down on days out and visiting regional city centres less often.

“On a more positive note, smaller towns are gaining ground as they benefit from a shop local spirit.

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“In times of austerity, shoppers need to cut petrol and parking costs and also want to support their town centre and local businesses.

“This has contributed to shoppers choosing to buy in their own communities rather than in larger centres further afield.”

Bernadette Rushton, Rotherham’s town centre manager, said: “In September, Rotherham experienced a huge increase in the number of shoppers visiting the town centre which we can attribute to a number of initiatives including our Shop Local scheme that over 11,000 residents have already signed up to.

“The scheme has been successful as we have actively addressed gaps in the town’s retail offering and now have an extensive range of independent and specialist stores such as a chocolatier and a home interiors shop.”