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.

York’s newly restored Mansion House attracts 1000 visitors

Visitors have flocked to see inside York’s newly restored Mansion House after it opened its doors for the first time last weekend [2-3 December].

Over 1,000 people visited the house following a £2.6m restoration project to make the history of the Mansion House even more accessible to York residents and visitors.

The house will now be open every day [except Mondays and Tuesdays] until Saturday 23 December, giving people more opportunities to see the house fully dressed for Christmas, complete with decorative garlands and a 10ft Christmas tree.

Councillor Keith Orrell, Interim Executive Member for Economic Development and Community Engagement, City of York Council, said: “York Mansion House really comes into its own at this time of year and the house looks really beautiful dressed for Christmas. I hope that local residents will take the opportunity to see for themselves the marvellous retoration work – the biggest since the house was finished in 1732 – and find out more about the unique history of York’s Mansion House than ever before.”

The resoration includes a new-look exterior, with a brick-coloured facade and a polychrome crest – a colour scheme voted for by York residents in 2016 – and thought to be similar to how the Manison House would have looked in the 1890s. (more…)

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

 

 

City centre visitor numbers show small increase in February

increase-footfall-retail

Continuing mild weather, and a recovering economy, boosted visitor numbers in York City centre by 3% during February compared to the same month in 2013.

Although the increase is less than is being experienced in similar High Streets elsewhere in the country, no doubt tourism chiefs will point to the success of special events such as the Viking Festival as part of the explanation for the reversal in fortunes.

The modest increase is unlikely to be enough to deflect criticism from the unpopular Lendal bridge closure which continues to dog the reputation of York City centre.

Huge increases in car parking charges – which are scheduled to be introduced later in the spring when York residents will lose their “Minster badge” discounts – are another cause for apprehension.

The first Saturday in March saw 38,882 visitors recorded on the Parliament Street footfall cameras.

This compared to 50,054 on the equivalent Saturday last year.

The full footfall figures can be seen by clicking here.