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Wet weather is to blame for decline in Weston-super-Mare’s summer footfall

PUBLISHED: 07:00 28 September 2017

A busy bank holiday was the busiest weekend in August. Picture: Derek Hitchins

A busy bank holiday was the busiest weekend in August. Picture: Derek Hitchins

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The ‘dreadful’ wet weather is to blame for a drop in Weston-super-Mare’s footfall, says its town centre manager.

Weston Business Improvement District (BID) recorded 176,727 fewer people visiting the town between June and August this year.

In comparison to the 2,532,529 visitors Weston welcomed last summer, just 2,355,802 visitors came this year, with August the quietest of the three summer months.

Town centre manager Steve Townsend hoped the weather would not deter visitors but believes Weston has little to offer in wet weather at the moment.

He said: “Once the university campus, Dolphin Square and the Italian Gardens are all finished it will lessen our reliance on beautiful weather.”

He also believes events like Eat: Weston, the Armed Forces Weekend and Carnival will only help to boost footfall in the town centre.

He added: “We are brilliant at holding events and we see a rise whenever there is something big happening in the town. We just need to hold more to attract people to the area.”

Weston’s busiest day this summer came in June during the Weston Air Festival and Armed Forces weekend, when 65,721 people visited on the Saturday as temperatures reached almost 30 degrees.

Despite an abnormally high number of visitors in April – 736,666 people – the overall number between January and August dropped by 1.3 per cent.

Mr Townsend told the Mercury retail in Weston is not doing very well at the moment following the closure of BHS and TJ Hughes.

He added: “We need more leisure opportunities which will appeal to all ages and we need more high-end retailers for ladies’ and men’s fashion.

“At the moment we are a bit of a one-trick pony.

“We are a tourist town but a lot of our core market is day trip visitors, we want to encourage them to stay later than 5pm.

“Having national chains in Weston shows us the businesses have confidence in our town otherwise they would not invest their money here.

“My wish is to be able to have retailers open later to improve our footfall in the evenings.

“I think by the time everything is in place with developments we will be going in the right direction.”

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