Bury St Edmunds welcomed 180,000 extra shoppers last year while nationally town centres saw a dip in footfall figures

Mark Cordell (left) and Colin Roberts are pictured in The Arc in Bury.

Mark Cordell (left) and Colin Roberts are pictured in The Arc in Bury. - Credit: Archant

Bury St Edmunds has been described as a “can-do town” following the latest footfall figures which show it is bucking the trend regionally and nationally.

Figures commissioned by the town’s Business Improvement District (BID), Ourburystedmunds, reveal footfall in the historic market town centre is up 4% for 2014 compared to the previous year, equating to an extra 177,046 people.

The picture was even brighter at Bury’s Arc shopping centre which welcomed almost 365,000 extra people last year with a footfall rise of nearly 4.5%.

Regionally and nationally town centre footfall is down by about 0.5%.

Mark Cordell, chief executive of Ourburystedmunds, spoke of Bury’s assets - such as its history, mix of national brands and independent retailers and safe feel - but added its success also involved a lot of people pulling in the same direction.

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“We are a can-do town,” he said. “We don’t rely on the local authority. We work with them, but are not one of these towns that expects other people to do everything.”

The BID group is behind events such as the Whitsun Fayre, the food and drink festival and the Christmas lights switch-on, while attractions including the Bury St Edmunds Festival - 10 days of music and arts - and the Bury St Edmunds Christmas Fayre are organised by St Edmundsbury Borough Council.

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Mayor of St Edmundsbury, Robert Everitt, said partnership working was about what is best for everyone - residents and businesses.

“If Ourburystedmunds has got an event going on we will support them as best we can and likewise for the Christmas fair and events we put on. It’s very much a team effort.”

Arc centre manager Colin Roberts said: “The centre has gone from strength to strength this year as these figures show and it’s doing exceptionally well against the national retail centre figures which are down by just over 1%.

“I look forward to continuing to work with Mark and the BID team in 2015 as they build on the achievements of their very successful first term and put into practice their plans for the next five years.”

Mr Everitt said the town must work hard to ensure its events are better than the last so people keep coming back.

The Ourburystedmunds footfall figures are calculated based on an entry point to the town on Abbeygate Street.

There has also been healthy footfall growth in Norwich, with the Norwich BID reporting an increase of 3.5% last year compared to 2013.

Louise Jensen, deputy centre manager of Lion Walk Shopping Centre in Colchester, said an extra 47,328 people had visited the centre last year compared to the previous one.

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