'No worries' despite 36,000 fewer visitors to Weston in December than in 2016
PUBLISHED: 07:31 29 January 2018 | UPDATED: 07:31 29 January 2018
More than 30,000 fewer people visited Weston-super-Mare over the festive period, but a town centre chief believes the figures do not spell ‘worrying signs’ for traders.
Footfall in the town centre in December was down to 314,000, compared to 350,000 in 2016, according to figures published by Weston Business Improvement District (BID).
The BID has footfall counters stationed on Big Lamp Corner and on the promenade. They found tens of thousands fewer people visited Weston, with visitors in the final week of the month – which sees the beginning of the January sales – in particular falling by more than 23,000 compared to 2016.
The report also highlighted the minimum temperature was warmer than in 2016, but there were considerably more rainy days.
Despite the fall in visitors, independent businesses reported ‘encouraging’ Christmas trade.
But the inclement weather is solely to blame for the reduced footfall, according to town centre manager Steve Townsend.
He said: “We ended 2017 2.6 per cent down on 2016, which is pretty disappointing, but December was pretty horrible weather-wise.
“I don’t think these are worrying signs. If it’s cold and horrible outside people will stay indoors and shop online. It really is luck of the draw with the weather.”
North Somerset Council might have hoped for more visitors after spending money on the new-look Italian Gardens, but it too pointed the finger at the weather.
A spokesman said: “The regeneration programme is an exciting time. Dolphin Square is set to open in the coming weeks and 2017 saw some very popular events at the Italian Gardens.
“Despite seeing December offering particularly nasty weather with storms and snow, we have still enjoyed a large number of visitors.”
Mr Townsend added late-night shopping events were a ‘success’, with Thursdays proving the busiest days in December excluding weekends. He also has high hopes for 2018, provided the town enjoys better weather.
He said: “We had a really poor summer, so if we had nicer weather footfall could have been 10 per cent up on 2016.
“The Italian Gardens is a much more useable space, and it’s not finished yet. I am looking forward to this year, and we have several events in the pipeline for the square including two Eat: Weston food festivals, a dog show and a Christmas food market.”