Bury St Edmunds bucks the retail trend with 10,000 extra visitors in May

Bury BID chief executive Mark Cordell in the Arc shopping centre celebrating the latest footfall fig

Bury BID chief executive Mark Cordell in the Arc shopping centre celebrating the latest footfall figures Picture: OUR BURY ST EDMUNDS - Credit: Archant

While many high streets across the country are struggling to entice and retain shoppers, one Suffolk market town is bucking the trend.

Crowds flocked to the Whitsun Fayre in Bury St Edmunds Picture: MICHAEL STEWARD

Crowds flocked to the Whitsun Fayre in Bury St Edmunds Picture: MICHAEL STEWARD - Credit: Archant

The latest footfall figures for May show a significant increase in visitors to Bury St Edmunds town centre - 10,000 more than during the same period last year.

Bury St Edmunds’ Business Improvement District (BID) organisation says the figures show there is still reason for optimism in the town centre despite a recent run of national retail chains closing elsewhere.

And according to BID chief executive Mark Cordell, the figures - calculated based on an entry point to the town on Abbeygate Street - are not just because of special events at weekends, including the recent Whitsun Fayre.

Almost every day of the week has seen the town centre busier than it was at the same time last year.


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This May, nearly 401,200 visited the town centre compared to just over 391,600 in May 2017.

Mr Cordell said: “We know Bury St Edmunds will not be immune to some of the difficulties that High Streets in other parts of the country are facing. But these figures are encouraging and show that compared to the same time a year ago Bury is doing better than the average, for not just the eastern region but the UK generally.

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“It’s encouraging to see these figures on a day when the news is full of a prestigious name in retail closing stores.

“We know that trading conditions for many businesses are becoming increasingly difficult but we hope to build on these figures.”

Although overall, the year to date compared to 2017 has seen slightly fewer people in the town centre, May seems to have “turned things around”, Mr Cordell said.

“There is no doubt that good weather and of course the Our Bury St Edmunds Whitsun Fayre which recorded more than 15,000 visitors on each day of the event both helped. In fact it was our busiest Whitsun Fayre since 2015,” he added.

Our Bury St Edmunds has a number of initiatives this summer to entice more visitors including its annual ‘Independents Week’ campaign, a Food & Drink Festival, and a town centre art trail commemorating 100 years since the end of the First World War.

• While Bury St Edmunds has seen the loss of established retailers such as Palmer’s in the past year, the town centre has also attracted nearly 20 new businesses in that time.

These include Cook gourmet food shop and 3 Cats Vintage, in St Johns Street, selling vintage items, and Garland Street Interiors.

In addition, Chelmer Art Gallery has opened in The Traverse, Boosh Bar is a new addition to Abbeygate Street and Reeds Hair has a new salon on Woolhall Street.

Long-standing attractions including the weekly market and the Christmas market, along with newer ones such as the monthly farmers’ market, continue to draw people to the town centre.

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