Bad news for City centre traders

Grim in Acomb

The latest footfall figures, reproduced by the BID team, reveal that there has been a 4% drop in visitor numbers so far this year. It is even worse on a year on year basis and is below the county average

That is a poor platform on which to approach the, normally busy, run up to Christmas.

In Acomb, the picture is slightly different with some traders reporting steady business trends. This is despite the lamentable performance recently of the Council in keeping open spaces, gutters and the areas around trees and street furniture free of weeds and litter.

Weeds still choke trees and seats on Front Street

The picture in residential areas is also disappointing with weeds disfiguring many streets

City centre economy facing a challenge

City centre traders are likely to be looking with concern at the numbers of people who are visiting the City centre. New footfall figures have been published.

The figures suggest that visitor numbers to the City may have plateaued.

Parliament Street less busy this year?

Long periods of hot weather haven’t, in the past, been good for York with some tourists preferring to visit coastal areas.

This years weather has been mixed.

Special attractions like the Rose Theatre, although generally successful, are not sold out while interest in events like the current “Great Yorkshire Fringe” are at best comparable with last year.

During June several York streets saw a 10% drop in visitor numbers in 2019 compared to the same month in 2018.

Early figures for July in Parliament Street suggest a 4% drop in visitor numbers during July.

Perhaps not surprisingly, given the number of empty shops on Coney Street, that area has seen visitor numbers drop from 812,808 in June 2017 to 713,762 in June of this year.

There is no shortage of excellent Festivals in York while the work of the BID has seen several parts of the city centre tidied up.

The most important time for many City centre traders is the period between now and Christmas.

Lets hope that the City continues to be “best day out” in the region

Gradual decline in visitor numbers to Parliament Street.
Smaller shopping streets are doing better with visitor numbers to Stonegate stable and numbers in Micklegate increasing.

So just how well has the City centre economy fared this year?

St Nicholas market popular this year

Traders in York are saying that they have had a very good period in the run up to Christmas.  The St Nicholas market has attracted coachloads of visitors, while the Christmas lights displays have been generally applauded.

Special events like the display in the Museum Gardens have added to the festive spirit.

The number of people on the streets  has been high during late November and December although the final figures won’t be known until after the holiday.

But, of course, everything is relative with overall visitor numbers, as measured by “footfall” cameras, broadly the same as they were 7 years ago.

There are of course peaks and troughs. There was distinct peak, for example, when the Tour de France visited York in 2014. But that boost was largely transient.

Some will point out that there are parts of the City centre which have been neglected. Duncombe Place is an unexploited opportunity, particularly at Christmas time, while Exhibition Square (outside the Art Gallery), is too often a deserted and windswept place.

Parliament Street remains a visual embarrassment made worst this year by the ugly shipping container village.

Footfall in Coney Street has shown the biggest fall with long term empty shop units mainly to blame.

Nor does footfall always translate into economic activity although several attractions, including The Minster and Merchant Adventurers Hall, are reporting a 5 year high in visitors.

January and February may give a more realistic set of figures on which to measure whether the City centre is bouncing back from the recession and changes to shopping habits.

We hope that it is.

Footfall trend in key shopping streets

Footfall in Parliament Street



So just how successful was the visitor economy in York this Christmas?

The Council has published the latest figures from its footfall cameras. The figures cover the period up to 25th December 2016 and provide a guide to the number of people walking around the City Centre.

December Visitor numbers to York

December Visitor numbers in York

At first glance, the figures suggest that impressions about visitor numbers may have been optimistic.  There has been a dramatic drop in the numbers on Coney Street, no doubt influenced by the high profile shop closures which took place in 2016.

Other streets are also showing a drop compared to 2015 when the Boxing Day floods took a toll on some parts of the City centre.

Even Parliament Street – which should have benefited from the ambitious St Nicholas Fair – doesn’t seem to have enjoyed the expected boost.

Of course, footfall figures are only part of the story. Trader turnover is a vital barometer while hotels look at room occupancy figures. The latter were buoyant earlier in the year.

Large and small visitor attractions monitor admission numbers carefully and there is some evidence to suggest that iconic attractions like the Minster did well towards the end of the year.

It may also be that the benefits of a cleaner, safer and better illuminated City centre – sponsored by the Business Improvement District – will make a difference in future years as “word of mouth” spreads the good news..

…. but in the meantime the authorities should be producing an analysis of what went right, together with a battle plan to address any failings.

Castle car park not full this week

Castle car park not full this week

Parliament Street quiet since Chrsitmas

Parliament Street quiet since Christmas



Visitor numbers in York – mixed trends

The latest footfall numbers have been published by the York Council for key shopping streets in the City

Some show stable numbers of visitors over the last few years.

In most cases the trend has been disappointing since the end of the recession.

The figures have been released only a few days after the Museums Trust revealed that declining numbers were visiting their attractions in the City centre. There have been some concerns about the number of vacant seats at the (critically acclaimed) current production of the Mystery Plays.

Visitor attractions and shopkeepers will be expecting that the large amount of money, raised by the Business Improvement District (BID), will be invested wisely and quickly.


Number increasing on Church Street

Numbers increasing on Church Street

Visitor numbers declining on Coney Street

Visitor numbers declining on Coney Street

Downward trend until recently on Micklegate

Downward trend until recently on Micklegate

Fewer visitors on part of Parliament Street

Fewer visitors on part of Parliament Street

Number outside Marks and Spencer stable

Numbers near Marks and Spencers stable

Downward trend on Stonegate

Downward trend on Stonegate

More people in York City centre


increase-footfall-retailFootfall cameras suggest popularity increasing

The latest footfall figures – taken from several camera locations in the City centre – reveal that more people are visiting the area than 12 months ago.

Figures for Coney Street reveal an average of 25,926 movements per day over the 12 months up to 13th December. That is the highest ever recorded, based on a 12 month rolling average

There is a similar picture in Church Street where an average of 3922 people are currently being recorded each day. This compared to 3861 recorded in the `12 months leading up to 24th August.

There has been a small reduction in footfall in Micklegate, where it is down from 7101 recorded in August to 6986 today.

Parliament Street has averaged 24511 movements per day so far in December.

Detailed figures are available on the Councils open data web site Click

Numbers visiting city centre stable


The latest “footfall” figures released by the Council suggest that fewer people have walked through the Parliament Street area over the last year.

A 12% reduction in footfall numbers may partly be influenced by the location (and relocation) of the market while a single week increase may indicate a special event being staged.

The camera records for Parliament Street stretch back to 2009. In some weeks the numbers may have been affected by visitors being “channeled” by stalls and other street furniture either beneath the cameras or out of their range.

However using a 12 month rolling weekly average numbers have declined in recent months.

Elsewhere in the City centre, footfall cameras suggest a more stable visitor pattern.

  • In Church Street. the latest yearly rolling average shows 26,671 visitors per week. This is slightly down on the March figure of 27,766
  • Comparable figures for Micklegate show 49,605 now, a small increase compared to the 49,161 counted in March
  • In Stonegate, 133,569 people walked down the street each week in the 12 months leading up to August 2015. The 12 months leading up to March 2015 had seen an almost identical number of pedestrians (133,596)
  • In Coney Street a rolling average of 239,000 was recorded in 2010. This fell to 180,116 on the latest figures although camera locations have changed.

Overall the figures suggest that the City centre has felt the benefits of a recovering economy. However, there are some concerning trends which may require action by the new “Make it York” economic development body.

The figures are likely to strengthen the case for establishing a Business Improvement District in the City centre

The figures can be downloaded from the Councils open access web site. A summary spreadsheet is available by clicking here 

Increase in visitor numbers in York City Centre

“Freedom of information” response reveals 24% more walked down Parliament Street in 2014 than in the previous year.



The number of visitors to the York City centre is now comparable with pre recession levels.

The area seems to have recovered from the reduction seen during the summer and autumn of 2013 when the Lendal bridge closure resulted in adverse publicity for the City across a wide part of the UK and indeed Europe.

The recovery seems to have extended into 2015 with 24% more pedestrian movements logged in January 2015 compared to 2014, with 10% more recorded during February

A complete day by day footfall monitor for cameras in Parliament Street, Coney Street, Church Street, Micklegate and Stonegate can be downloaded by clicking here. The latter 4 camera sites have been operating for less than a year, making comparisons difficult

Some caution should be used when looking at the footfall numbers.

The cameras may have been relocated in the past while special events and market stall locations, can “channel” greater or lesser numbers of people into range of the cameras.

The data is not of course a measure of how much people are spending in the City centre.

True economic impact of Lendal bridge fiasco emerging

City centre  footfall up 60% compared to last August


The York Council delayed responding to a Freedom of information request until just 5 minutes after a key Lendal Bridge decision was taken yesterday.

After the meeting had concluded it emerged that the effect of the closure on City Centre businesses last year had been more substantial than had previously been revealed.

The Lendal Bridge restrictions were in place from 27th August 2013 to 1st April 2014.

Camera enforcement on Coppergate started on 15th August 2013

During the earlier part of the restriction period footfall – measured by a camera in Parliament Street – showed a significant decline peaking at -12% during September.

The situation improved only during March when a 14% increase was recorded comparing  2014 with 2013.

However, since the camera enforcement was stopped on 1st April 2014, visitor numbers have soared.

    • April 2014 up 29% on previous year
    • May 2014 up 21%
    • June 2014 up 25%
    • July 2015 up 33%
  • Aug (to 25th) up 60%

These figures are far higher than might be accounted for solely by the economic recovery.

Fortunately they do seem to suggest that the City’s reputation has not been permanently damaged.

A failure by the Council to refund all fines which were imposed unlawfully could change that picture.

The failure to provide information in a timely way – and prevent some Councillors from seeing key legal advice on the Lendal Bridge issue – may lead to the York Council Leadership being reported to the Local Government Ombudsman

Latest footfall figures released


606,202 movements were recorded by the Parliament Street footfall cameras during March 2014.

This represented an increase on the 531,421 recorded 12 months earlier although it was still down on the 2012 total of 666,249.

The full figures can be downloaded by clicking here

The numbersare influenced by weather conditions and the general economic situation, so most retailers will be focusing on the August to December period when shopper numbers are usually at their highest.

NB. One retailer recently said that sales figures were still 10% down using a year on year comparison.