Wednesday 17 July 2024
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Notts town centre struggling to return to pre-pandemic levels

Mansfield town centre’s economy is continuing to feel the impact of Covid lockdowns and and did not return to pre-pandemic levels last Christmas, new data shows.

District council figures confirm footfall levels in the town throughout October, November and December last year were significantly higher than in 2020 but still short of the numbers seen in 2019.

The data shows 462,214 visits were made to the town in December 2021, which is more than 100,000 fewer than the same figure for two years earlier, when 562,861 visits were made.

In 2020, when the town was under Tier 3 Covid restrictions and the November lockdown, just 369,314 visits were made during what is typically the busiest period for retailers.

The 2021 figures also came after the town lost major high street retailers including Topshop, Topman, Burton, Dorothy Perkins and Debenhams, as well as the major department store Beales.

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And separate figures show the council’s income for a raft of town centre facilities has felt the same squeeze, with a significant uplift in 2021 compared with 2020 but still not back up at 2019 levels.

The data shows the authority made £270,957 in October, November and December last year from charges in its town centre car parks. This is 120 per cent more than the £122,975 made for the same period in 2020.

However, in 2019 before the pandemic arrived, Mansfield District Council made £437,658 during the same three-month period, meaning there has been a fall of roughly 61 per cent.

The council says part of this was due to a two-and-a-half-week period of free parking in the Four Seasons car park in late December, which was “due to faulty barriers, which would have had an impact on income”.

The authority’s ‘shopmobility’ scheme, which allows people with mobility issues to hire an electric wheelchair or scooter to use the town centre, also saw a fall in income during the same period.

In 2019 the scheme made £1,040, falling to £232 in 2020 before marginally increasing to £271 a year later.

And income from the market also failed to return to pre-pandemic levels in October, November and December last year.

The historic market stalls generated £20,942 for the three months last year, a 44 per cent drop on the pre-pandemic income of £37,651 for the same three months in 2019.

The same period in 2020, when the November lockdown and various Tier restrictions were in place, saw the authority make just £14,377.

The council says a marketing plan is “currently being finalised” to advertise for new market traders, with adverts currently being circulated with new year ‘Kipper Season’ offers.

And the authority says its town centre staffing team are currently being impacted by Covid isolations and illness, but have “all services operating”.

However, teams managing the town centre have been praised for their work making the town welcoming to shoppers at Christmas.

Commenting within a council report on the issue, Julie Snowdon, town centre manager, said: “The team have worked very hard over the festive period to ensure that the town centre looks great, and continues to provide a safe and clean environment for visitors.”

The data and action plans for the town centre will be reviewed by the authority’s overview and scrutiny (place) committee when it meets on Tuesday, February 1.

The same meeting will discuss progress on the authority’s town centre masterplan, which sets out the council’s ambitions to improve and regenerate many parts of the historic market town.

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