Shopper numbers in Bury St Edmunds bounce back to pre-Covid levels
- Credit: Johnny Griffith
Nearly 20,000 shoppers visited Bury St Edmunds town centre in one day last week as footfall approached pre-pandemic levels.
Last Saturday, April 24, was the busiest day for a long time, said business leader Mark Cordell, with footfall figures for last week up 327% on the same time last year - when we remained under tough lockdown restrictions.
The footfall data also shows 73,446 people visited the town centre last week, just shy of the 78,593 figure from two years ago before the Covid pandemic hit. The same week last year the figure was just 17,197.
The opening of non-essential shops and outdoor eating and drinking areas from April 12 has helped entice people back into town.
Mr Cordell, chief executive of the Business Improvement District (BID) Our Bury St Edmunds, said "things are looking good".
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"We are approaching the levels of 2019," he said. "It hasn't gone crazy, which I'm really glad about.
"Feedback from businesses and the public alike is very positive. I haven't had any information about people being inconsiderate or inappropriate."
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He added: "We are hoping this will continue and be replicated when hospitality reopens on May 17."
Mr Cordell said the extended pedestrianisation of Abbeygate Street - a trial to support cafes and restaurants and boost footfall - had gone well.
The town is known as a foodie destination, home to the county's only Michelin Starred restaurant, Pea Porridge, and many cafes and restaurants are making great use of outdoor seating.
Pea Porridge chef-patron Justin Sharp said: "It's great people are embracing outdoor sitting and café culture. Fingers crossed we have got great weather ahead of us."
Pea Porridge, which doesn't have an outdoor seating area, reopens on May 19.
An arts and events venue on the first floor of the historic Market Cross will also open in May after the Grade I listed property, owned by West Suffolk Council, sat vacant for years.