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Ipswich: County town celebrates best pre-Christmas shopping spike for years

14:39 14 January 2014

Shoppers headed to Ipswich for Christmas.

Shoppers headed to Ipswich for Christmas.


While town and city centres across the country struggled to attract shoppers in the run-up to Christmas, Ipswich enjoyed one of its best festive seasons for years according to the group which promotes its businesses.

Paul Clement, chief executive of Ipswich Central, said the town had had a hugely successful festive season.

“One of the leading surveys, by national accountants BDO, showed sales across the country in high street stores had fallen by 2.2% this year compared with last Christmas.

“We have now had figures back from businesses across Ipswich town centre, from national names to independents, and they show exactly the opposite.

“Their sales have increased by 2.03% this Christmas. That success extends to local branches of some of the national chains that have reported difficult trading periods. In Ipswich they have done much better than elsewhere.”

Mr Clement said the town had worked hard to link in new technology with traditional shopping. Its “All About Ipswich” app had encouraged people to look up what was available where while they were out shopping.

And the stores had benefitted from customers using “click and collect” to pick up goods that might not be available on the shelves.

“What is especially encouraging is that shops that have invested in the town have done particularly well here. That must mean it will be easier to persuade existing businesses to refresh or expand their stores.”

Major investment is coming in the town this year with conversion work due to get underway within weeks to create a new Vue multiplex cinema in the Buttermarket Centre – along with several family restaurants.

Mr Clement said: “Things are looking promising for the town centre – hopefully things will continue to improve.”

Mike Sorhaindo, centre manager of Tower Ramparts shopping centre in Ipswich, said footfall numbers in November and December were “higher than expected”.

“The week of Christmas was 11% busier than last year,” he said. “Many stores reported their busiest day of the year on December 27.”

However Daniel Le Sauvage, director at Urban Vintage in Ipswich’s town centre, said he “100% feared” for high streets – and businesses would have to adapt.

“More people are shopping online and visiting out-of-town stores with bigger premises and cheaper parking,” he said.

“High streets have their days numbered. It’s sad to see. There are too many pound shops and coffee shops and not enough to do. Towns will lose their personalities.”

He said click-and-collect saved his Christmas, contributing to one in every four sales.


  • Agree with Scott Brock. Another couple of points to consider are that the !mega retail palaces" in East London (Westfield, Lakeside & Blue Water) are within easy reach of Ipswich’s target shoppers. Norwich has a clear advantage in being just far enough away not to feel the impact. So, if Ipswich could secure a Chapelfield sized development (eg. a top 100 sized retail centre) then the town would certainly succeed as as major retail town. Why ? Well because the stats prove that it already holds its own against exceptionally tough regional competition!

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    Mark Ling

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • Wow.........Can't wait for all the new stores Mr Clement is expecting to pitch up soon. Ipswich Town will gain promotion to the Premiership and sign Lionel Messi. IBC will reduce everyone's Council Tax . The government will reduce income tax, Traffic Lights in the town centre will be abolished and everyone will live happily ever after.......... What colour is the sky in Ipswich Central's world?

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    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • Two comments on the article.... if 2% is a huge success what would failure be? That sort of increase barely covers inflation.(which FELL to 2% in December). So this huge success was surely just treading water? And a positive comment as well - Daniel Le Sauvage appears to know what he is talking about.

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    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • Don't believe anything that comes from Mr Clements mouth when it comes to Ipswich town Centre . We spent nothing in ipswich this year or last , the place is a dump .

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    Poppys Dad

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • We went Norwich to do our Xmas shopping. What a fantastic retail experience! No cyclists weaving at speed between pedestrians, buskers who performed entertaining music to a professional standard, no chuggers, Big Issue sellers who spoke English and were polite, hardly any empty shops, a well organised market that is an added attraction to the city not an embarassment - the list goes on and on. The excitement of shopping there was a reminder of distant times when Ipswich was a town centre to be proud of. IBC's strategic policy of developing the Wet Dock as a leisure area seems to be at odds with giving planning permission for four restaurants in one area on the outskirts of town encouraging people to stay away from the town centre and Waterfront

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    Billy Knowbend

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • where does Mr Clements come from? storms just before Christmas that many traders have said cost them a lot of trade ,on line sales the biggest ever Bury & Norwich reporting increase sales also, i don't know how he gets these figures ,on the days i went into town just before Christmas most shops had started their sales due to poor turn over so if they did increase their turnover no money was made, any fool can give items away so why not give the true figures on profit, as said by poppys dad its a dump to what it was 10 years ago

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    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • I think the clue is in the first paragraph..."according to the group which promotes its businesses".

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    John Alborough

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • Totally agree with all that billy knowbend says. I have lived in ipswich all my life and I am saddened and ashamed of ipswich town centre . Norwich is a fantastic city with ambition , imagination and common sense. It is a city to be proud of. Ipswich has been blighted by stupid and ill informed planning and development decisions for many years . Mr Clement should resign. Not sure what he does.Who pays his salary? I have absolutely no faith in the political leadership of IBC. God help us all if he is elected as our MP? Norwich here I come

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    Mel C

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • Some positive news for the town. Great. Nice to seem some people support the town rather than going elsewhere on some crusade to cut their nose to spite their face. I just love the "its all lies" comments. Yet i suspect is they were saying sales were down 2% they'd believe every word. Unfortunately these stats don't fit the Ipswich is doomed ideal some people strangely strive towards for their own town. Why do so many people want to cut their nose to spite their face?

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    Scott Brock

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • Sounds like a lot of spin to me. Ipswich (aka 'The Dump') bucking the national trend; I very much doubt it.

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    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • Whilst there seems to be a major downer on the Ipswich’s retail offeriing, I think it is wise to take stock of the competition. If you look at the data on retail regions by spending; and then overlay populous figures there are only three retails centres in entire county which buck the trend: Leeds, Milton Keynes and Norwich. I hate to admit it, but Norwich is a total exception for retail and in terms of performance for size of population it is the country’s star performer. But, an exception it is! Other major centres such as Bristol, Leicester, Cardiff, Sheffield and Hull all punch well below their weight. For populous (both centre and surrounding area), Ipswich is actually an reasonable performer (but clearly can do much better). Our retail spend is equal to bigger locations such as Hull & Oxford; and we outperform Peterborough, York, Northampton, Swindon, Crawley & Luton. Ipswich is also squeezed because Colchester and Cambridge both have similar draw; and because annoyingly we have the country’s biggest retail star in the next county. So, all is not rotten in Ipswich’s retail garden. Clearly, what IBC & Ipswich Central must do is look and compare those successful retail towns and try to adapt the right conditions necessary to emulate their success.

    Report this comment

    Mark Ling

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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