Footfall counters at White River Place shopping centre recorded almost 350,000 visitors during December 2012; an increase of 38.3 per cent on November 2012 and a massive increase of 73.1 per cent on December 2011 – an extra 147,000 visitors.
Use of the White River Place car park has also risen dramatically since being taken over by White River Place centre owners Ellandi. When parking costs were slashed in November vehicle numbers were 32 per cent higher than the previous year, and were up 20 per cent during the Christmas shopping period in December.
The busier car park and increased footfall at White River Place in recent months is reflective of what has been a healthier trading period for shops across the wider town centre.
To kick off the New Year, on Saturday (5 January) the St Austell BID steering group funded a £1 parking promotion at the White River Place Car Park to encourage shoppers to support the town centre and take advantage of the January sales.
The parking initiative was a resounding success with 1,409 vehicles recorded throughout the day – which equates to filling the 500-space car park almost three times over.
Claire Daniel, White River Place Centre Manager said: “Before being taken over by Ellandi, one of the main criticisms we received was that the car park was too expensive. Now the charges have been lowered vehicle movement has rocketed, which proves that people do want to support the town centre but parking was a barrier to that.
“The footfall figures for December are absolutely fantastic and it is great to see so many local people choosing to shop in St Austell. We hope to attract more big name retailers to White River Place this year, which would undoubtedly provide even more of a lift and help St Austell town centre continue to thrive.”
The £1 parking promotion at White River Place was organised by the St Austell BID steering group. This month, around 200 businesses in the town centre will have the chance to vote in the BID ballot, which if successful would have £600,000 to spend on improving trading conditions over the next five years.
Chris Witt, Chairman of the St Austell BID steering group said: “The parking promotion is a great example of what the BID would be able to do for St Austell, increasing footfall and boosting business for retailers. We want to make town more attractive, accessible and safe and will initiate more events and market the town to its full potential.
“St Austell is really starting to flourish, with partners including White River Place, the Town Council and Chamber of Commerce all working together to create a lively and vibrant place for people to shop and spend their leisure time. The footfall figures from White River Place prove that things are improving and there is a positive story to tell. I just hope that the unwanted development proposed at Coyte Farm does not go ahead, as it would undermine all our efforts and destroy the town centre.”
Businesses in St Austell are currently campaigning against the proposed out-of-town development at Coyte Farm, which they believe will stop retail investment in the town centre and take trade away from its existing shops, cafes and restaurants. A petition is being run online at www.stopcoytefarm.co.uk and on Twitter @StopCoyteFarm.
Ally Watkins, owner of the Nature Kitchen spice shop in St Austell is one of the local business owners rallying against the development. Ally says that the town has been noticeably busier in recent months, and for Nature Kitchen business is booming.
“In the past year we have doubled our turnover and even now in January we are busier than we have ever been. Many customers are people who are now starting to use St Austell instead of going further afield, which I think is down to the cheaper parking, the growing variety of new businesses opening and the saving on fuel costs of staying local.
“I would like to thank our customers old and new for believing in our business and believing in the future of our lovely St Austell. We finally are on target to deliver a town to be proud of.”
For more information about White River Place visit www.whiteriverplace.co.uk or follow us on Twitter @whiteriverplace or find us on Facebook.
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