Sun, 21 Aug 2016
A HUNGERFORD traders’ spokesman has condemned West Berkshire Council’s decision to abandon its monitoring of footfall in the town.
The chairman of Hungerford’s Chamber of Commerce, Nigel Perrin, said the move would make it harder to devise a strategy to halt the decline.
The last time such figures were published, in 2015, they revealed that footfall figures for the town had been steadily falling over the previous four years.
The declining number of visitors came despite the best efforts of civic leaders to promote the town as a tourist destination.
It led some to call for more investment by West Berkshire Council, while others said innovative ideas were necessary.
Mr Perrin said this week: “The fact that they’re trying to save money by ceasing to monitor Hungerford footfall is not good news.
“Individual traders keep a close eye on the amount of trade compared to the same time last year and, although footfall is a more general indicator of visits to the town, it’s good to have official, back up information.”
Mr Perrin said that, in general, footfall in Hungerford appeared to continue its slow decline, but added: “It does rather depend on the individual shop.
“Some are suffering really badly.
“It can be a combination of not offering the right product, to be brutally honest, and without doubt there’s ever-increasing competition online.
“Roxtons, for example, said 10 per cent of their trade is online and growing – but at least that’s from their own online store.”
Those that fared best, he added, were Hungerford’s ‘destination’ outlets such as Hungerford Arcade, Furr and Co, Roxtons, Styles Silver and antiques stores like Below Stairs.
Published economic figures from West Berkshire Council show that, in 2011/12, town centre footfall in Hungerford stood at 4,950 people per day.
By 2014/15, this had steadily fallen to 4,394 people per day.
A spokesman for West Berkshire Council, Martin Dunscombe, said last week that the figures were no longer being collated, and added: “It’s simply because things have moved on since we first began them. The relevance of such a survey once a year is questionable.”
Footfall figures look at the number of pedestrians who pass through a certain area.
The more people who are in the area, the more passing trade there is for local retailers, which means a street or area with a high footfall figure is beneficial to most local retailers.
Trends in footfall may be an indicator of growth or decline within an area, particularly when used with other data, such as average spend in retail outlets.