Monday, October 10, 2011

News: Retail boost for Rotherham town centre as people Shop Local


A new national survey has shown that Rotherham town centre had the largest percentage increase in footfall of over 85 UK towns and cities.

Springboard's National High Street Index showed that whilst the average High Street experienced a -1.2% decline in footfall in September, and regional cities in the UK saw a year-on-year drop of -7.6%, the footfall for Rotherham in September was up by 32.2% compared to last year.

Other provincial towns such as Mansfield (+13.4%), Grimsby (+11.3%) and Newport (+7.5%) also saw year-on-year footfall uplifts to their High Streets which experts put down to consumers choosing to "shop local."

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, echoing the Government's Localism Bill.

"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, retail investment manager at Rotherham Council added: "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."

With over 100 town centre shops signed up to provide discounts and offers to cardholders since its inception last year, the Shop Local Scheme is a significant success. It won the Best Public/Private Partnership Working award at the recent Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) awards.

Rotherham has also earned recognition for an innovative new grants scheme which has been used as an example by Mary Portas, the previous government and The British Retail Consortium (BRC) as a way of helping to attract independent retailers into the town centre.

The initiative, funded by Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, is part of a drive to improve the range of shops and reduce the number of empty units in the town. It provides specialist shopkeepers with up to 50% of the rental costs in year one and 25% in year two, as well as support towards shopfitting costs.

Bernadette added: "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."

Thanks to the innovative grants scheme, the latest independent retailer to open in Rotherham town centre is the Bitter Sweet Boutique on Moorgate Street. The 14th grant has also recently gained the council's approval and is set to be awarded to support the opening of a skateboard and accessories store on Eastwood Lane.

One of the first retailers to secure a grant was Danielle Roden, who has recently extended her Yella Brick Road boutique into a second unit.

Rotherham Town Centre website



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