More shoppers head to St Albans

FOOTFALL is on the up in the city centre and is at its highest level since July 2004, according to new research.

St Albans district council carried out a survey which showed that pedestrian footfall in July 2010 had increased by 10.8 per cent since February and 7.3 per cent compared to the same month last year.

The research has also shown that the number of vacant retail units in the city centre has also fallen over the last year. This month, 30 out of 531, or 5.65 per cent of retail spaces were available compared to just under 6.45 per cent in March and 7.58 per cent in August last year.

The council claims that where retail premises have closed in the past year, the numbers have been balanced out by new lettings.

Despite this positive news, the council has said it still recognises that there are pockets of empty retail space in the city centre and is working with landlords and their agents, and neighbouring retailers to see what can be done to revitalise these areas.

Cllr Sheila Burton, portfolio holder for culture and heritage, said: “This increase in pedestrian footfall is good news for retailers, restaurants and cafes in St Albans at a time when the country is emerging from a recession. This means that more people are visiting the city centre and are hopefully spending more money in our local shops and with businesses.

“The fall in the number of empty retail units demonstrates that interest in St Albans among retailers is increasing. For example, Phase Eight, White Stuff and Poundworld are among the retailers to have recently opened stores in the city centre.

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“However, the council is not complacent and recognises that there a number of empty units at the top end of St Peter’s Street. It will be working with local retailers to encourage more footfall in this area and is also talking to local landlords about opportunities to let their space out.”