There are ‘encouraging signs’ that footfall in Wrexham is experiencing an upward trend with over 77,000 visits to the town centre in a single week in July.
Readers will recall the figures we first revealed in our meeting report from a recent Scrutiny meeting, with further detail given at the last Town Centre Forum meeting where it was explained that an electronic pedestrian counter had been installed between Barclays bank and WH Smith on Hope Street.
Following an analysis of Wrexham’s High Street performance by the Manchester Metropolitan University back in 2014, a number of recommendations were put forward to help improve the town.
One such goal was to look at ways of increasing footfall, through initiatives such as enhancing the appearance of town along with developing new events. As a result data from a new electronic pedestrian counter installed on Hope Street has been feeding through weekly counts to the Town Centre Management team.
The meeting was told the siting of the tracker location was chosen due to three busy streets – Regent Street, Hope Street and Bank Street – all converging. There are also plans to install additional counters in other parts of town, with Regent Street mooted as one potential location.
During the Town Centre Forum meeting a bi-monthly breakdown of footfall data was provided, showing a steady month on month increase since January 2017. A paper handout of the data also indicated the system used is Spring Board. For those interested there is a video by Spring Board showing how the system in Wrexham could be working:
Perhaps unsurprisingly the data showed that the start of the year had the lowest recorded footfall so far, with 50,545 visits at the end of the January. The data does suggest however that the New Year sales provided a boost to the town at the start of 2017, with 67,495 recorded visits.
March figures vary from 68,317 for the first week through to 63,495 at the end of the month. A quick look back through the month’s events could indicate that the St David’s Day Parade could have provided a nice boost to the number of people in town at the start of March.
Throughout May footfall numbers are shown to remain in the low to mid 60,000 mark, however rolling forward a month there a several peaks throughout June. Week 25 saw a recording of 77,994 and the last week of the month 70,037.
Similar footfall figures are also recorded for July, which has consistently recorded over 70,000 – with the highest so far being at the start of the month with 77,518.
The figures also show Saturday is the busiest day for pedestrians in town, with a peak around midday.
Speaking earlier this week Destination Manager at Wrexham County Borough Council, Joe Bickerton explained the data shows the importance of events in the town, with a correlation showing that Saturdays / Street Festival days and the Monday Market are the busiest times.
Wrexham is one of seven towns selected to take part in the Innovate Project, a two-year government backed project to track sales and footfall. Along with the footfall counter, sales data is also collected from a dozen businesses across the town centre every week. This data looks at week on week sales percentage change and also year on year sales percentage change.
The positive trend in footfall has been welcomed by Lead Member for the Economy, Cllr Terry Evans, who said: “The town centre team and the steering group have worked hard this year to ensure that the town and our markets are prioritised in terms of appearance and promoted well. Along with cornerstone events like the St David’s Day parade, the food festival and the Victorian Christmas Market – the town has been buoyed by the monthly street festivals and community events that regularly occur throughout town.”
The Spring Board product also is used up the road in Chester (their reecent stats are here)
Town centre footfall data has been promised as a regular update at every Town Centre Forum meeting in the future. The Spring Board product allows a live data feed, so with Wrexham Council recently pledging to move towards Open Data it could be such information is made public instantly.
Eagles Meadow collect similar data and the centre manager Kevin Critchley was invited to share their data with Wrexham Council for the benefit of the town centre. Back in 2012 Eagles Meadow did release some figures, claiming around 1.5 million people in a year went to the town centre via Eagles Meadow – roughly 28,000 people a week. If the data is shared in a similar open manner to the one proposed by Wrexham Council there will be a firmer understanding of the flows of people and sources in the town.
Top Pic: A screenshot from the demo of Spring Board last year in Perugia, giving an insight to what the system could be ‘seeing’ in Wrexham.