City centre suffers fall in number of shoppers

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SHEFFIELD city centre suffered a slight slump in the number of shoppers visiting last month, news figures reveal.

But Rotherham town centre experienced the second biggest growth in shoppers of any town centre in the UK compared with last year.

Sheffield city centre’s footfall fell 1.4 per cent in February on last year, according to figures from Springboard, which monitors 350 High Streets around the UK.

It comes after Sheffield Council last week revealed the city centre experienced 0.5 per cent growth in January compared with January 2011.

The figures showed there were a total of 1,209,108 visits to the city centre in January this year.

The latest statistics from Springboard show Rotherham enjoyed a huge increase last month of 28.6 per cent compared with February 2011.

Rotherham’s growth was second only to Rugby in Warwickshire, where footfall rose by 31.1 per cent.

Rotherham has experienced a revival helped by publicity from TV shopping guru Mary Portas’s visit as part of a survey of Britain’s High Streets.

She praised the town’s award-winning markets and independent stores which have grown as chain stores have moved to Meadowhall and Parkgate.

Bernadette Rushton, retail investment manager for Rotherham, said: “Shop Local is a motto at the heart of our regeneration scheme. Over the past couple of years we have continued to see positive year-on-year footfall results as Rotherham town centre adopts various localism schemes to drive footfall to the town centre.

“We have actively addressed gaps in our town centre retail offer through various initiatives, including business grants.”

She added: “Markets are an essential part of the mix for a successful town centre and Rotherham was recently recognised as having the Best Outdoor Street Market at a national awards ceremony.”

Diane Wehrle, research director at Springboard, said: “February traditionally sees a dip in footfall so no one is panicking just yet.

“In fact there are some real success stories with towns including Rotherham bucking the national trend.

“These high streets are proof that through deploying additional tactics, by building on their unique offering and local strengths, echoing the Government’s localism bill, they have been successful in retaining and attracting shoppers.”