With many retail, hospitality and leisure venues opening their doors recently for the first time in months, visitors flocked to Newbury town centre to shop, eat, drink, and even paint pottery in the beautiful spring sunshine.
Newbury BID, the not-for-profit organisation behind the Visit Newbury brand, has been tracking footfall in Northbrook Street since 2014. The week of 12-17 April saw the busiest week since before the pandemic began, with a 52.5% increase in footfall compared to the previous week, and a 196% increase compared to the same week in 2020 when the UK was at the height of the first lockdown.
Melissa Hughes, CEO of Newbury BID, explains,
The week of 12-17 April was the closest we have been to normal levels of footfall in Newbury town centre for more than 13 months. Visitors were in good spirits, shop workers were delighted to be back, and it was great to see people respecting each other by wearing face coverings and maintaining social distancing. There was a real buzz around town and a sense that we are finally emerging, albeit slowly and safely, from one of the most challenging times we’ve ever faced as a community.
Visitor numbers reached more than 75% of the footfall we saw during the same week in April 2019, which compares positively to the 65% seen on average across UK high streets. It’s the first time the 75% of normal footfall mark has been exceeded since the pandemic began, which suggests that consumer confidence in Newbury is high and there’s a real desire to return to the town centre and support local businesses. Over the coming months, as we move through the next phases of reopening, we expect to see this support continue to grow.
Excitement about returning to the town centre has been bolstered by the arrival of several new shops and venues, from an exclusive bridal boutique to an independent patisserie and ice cream shop. You can find out more about what’s new to Newbury here: https://visitnewbury.org.uk/new-to-newbury/
There are more than 25 town centre pubs, restaurants, and cafés open for outdoor service, with a wide variety of food and drink on offer. You can browse the list of venues with opening times here: https://visitnewbury.org.uk/re-visit-newbury/