Shrewsbury has once again bucked the national trend by recording an increase in footfall during 2019 – but business leaders have warned that town centres still need the support of local people to thrive. 

The number of visits to Shrewsbury town centre recorded by footfall cameras was up by 0.3 per cent last year, compared to an average national decrease of 3.8 per cent. 

Occupancy of town centre retail units is also better than the national average – Shrewsbury’s vacancy rate is currently about 5 per cent compared to more than 10 per cent nationally. 

Directors at Shrewsbury Business Improvement District (BID), which supports businesses and works to promote and enhance Shrewsbury town centre, said the figures were encouraging. 

Alessio Dyfnallt, commercial director at Cooper Green Pooks and Shrewsbury BID director, said: “We have seen a number of new businesses opening in Shrewsbury over recent months, which is very positive for the town. 

“There have been developments in all areas, with new additions to Pride Hill including Hobbs, Shuropody and Hays Travel, and despite House of Fraser’s closure, High Street is otherwise fully let. 

“The town’s gateway at Castle Street, which is currently part of an enhancement project through the Big Town Plan, is fast becoming a casual food and drink hub with the additions of Oil, Glou Glou and Tap and Can. 

“Around the rest of the town, three out of four vacant properties on St Mary’s Street and Dogpole are now under offer, while recent lettings on Wyle Cop included the Edwardian Bedding Company which took over 4,000 square feet previously home to Feather and Black. 

“There are some vacancies in areas such as Market Street, Shoplatch and Mardol, but encouragingly there is a steady flow of prospective occupiers considering these locations.” 

Seb Slater, executive director of Shrewsbury BID, said it was good to see the slight increase in footfall during 2019, and urged residents to continue to support their town centre. 

“Shrewsbury is home to an incredible range of businesses, which makes the town centre such an interesting and vibrant place to be,” he said. “But it is vital that the town centre continues to be well supported by local people and that we attract new visitors and customers to the town. 

“It’s encouraging to see that footfall in Shrewsbury outperformed the national average, and we have exciting plans to promote Shrewsbury as a regional destination during 2020. 

“However, we are acutely aware that across the UK, the High Street is under real pressure, so would urge people to come and support local businesses whenever they can – it really does make a huge difference.”