Hard times but city will bounce back

Fargate shoppers
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Low spending, a drop in footfall and a move of shoppers from Fargate to The Moor are all hitting Sheffield’s retail vibrancy hard, a new report claims.

Analysis of Sheffield’s retail climate says shopper numbers are 4.7 per cent down year-on-year, comparing February 2013 with 2014.

It also says the average spend per transaction in the city is just £11 to £15 – and, although that is up from £5 in 2012, it is still falling short of the ‘£30 to £40’ target mark.

The report, issued to the council’s Economic, Environmental Well Being Scrutiny and Policy Development Committee, said: “Footfall across Fargate and Division Street is down compared to the same period in 2013.

“However Pinstone Street and The Moor is up, which shows a clear movement of foot-flow from the traditional busy areas around High Street and Fargate to The Moor.”

It added: “Despite rapid strides made in the last decade which transformed the feel of the city centre, the overwhelming impact of the recession has been to reduce the confidence and capacity for further investment and regeneration.

“While some stalled projects are now progressing, this has inevitably had an impact on the vibrancy in Sheffield city centre.”

But Simon Green, executive director of ‘place’ for Sheffield Council, and Brendan Moffett, director of Marketing Sheffield - who also wrote the report - say their latest figures indicate positive signs.

They say they are ‘confident of what the future holds’. The council says it is looking to boost Sheffield’s retail offering and general city centre health with a series of investments, events and proposals.

Those plans include a city centre development fund being launched this summer, as well as an action plan aiming to ‘restore Sheffield to its rightful position’ against other UK cities.

Mr Moffett said: “Our job is to come up with events and animation to improve the city centre.

“We are not concerned, but we acknowledge it’s an ongoing challenge. What we’re not doing is taking our eye off the ball at any stage.

“The overarching sentiment is we are confident of what the future holds.

“We have monitored closely to make sure we have a plan in place for Sheffield to be successful.”