This is how many people visited Hull city centre last summer as high street remains in crisis

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 10 Jan 2019

Footfall in Hull city centre last summer reached a six-year high despite continued pressures on retailers.

New figures, revealed by HullBID, showed visitor numbers between April and October 2018 had not been higher since 2012.

Footfall in Hull during the six-month period would have been boosted by the stunning moon exhibition in Hull Minster, which during two weeks in September attracted more than 80,000 people.

Other possible causes for the rise are the resurgence of Trinity Market, the exceptional summer weather, and the spectacular Dominoes event in August.

The boss of HullBID said she was optimistic 2019 would be a good one for the city centre, but admitted fresh challenges would also have to be faced.  Kathryn Shillito, executive director, said: “We have certainly become more of a visitor destination... it’s not just about the shopping any more.

Kathryn Shillito, executive director at HullBID

“We were boosted by City of Culture and by offering an all-round leisure experience we have increased our popularity.  

“The architecture of our old town, the free museums and galleries, a much-welcomed arena and a multitude of exciting leisure facilities have played their part.

Read more: Two of Hull's oldest businesses up for prestigious city centre awards

“We have so much to be proud of that we can shout about and we are not fearful of doing that. No longer are we seen just as a city at the end of the motorway.”

HullBID played a major role in bringing a successful programme of events to the city centre, including the ever-popular Street Food Nights and the Yum! Festival of Food and Drink.

The dominoes provided an incredible spectacle for Hull (Peter Harbour)

The city centre also received a huge boost last month, when it was announced a last-gasp deal had been struck to save House of Fraser in Hull.

Despite the increased footfall though, 2018 proved to be an immensely difficult one on the high street.  The last 12 months have seen big names including Toys R Us, Maplin, Poundworld and American Golf all close their doors.

Several factors have been widely blamed for the retail plight, from business rates and rents, to the ever-increasing threat posed by online shopping.

Ms Shillito admitted shoppers were “spending their money differently.”  She said: “We are not blind to the challenges and we are very aware of the issues facing the high street generally, the bricks and mortar retailers particularly.

Poundworld was one of the biggest retailers to close in 2018

“It is still difficult because people are spending their money differently but we are buoyed by the big influx of independent businesses which have added a lot to the vibrancy.

“The new houses which are going to be built in the city centre will generate growth and that will attract more professional people to live in the city centre, wanting to shop and eat on their doorstep.”

Read more: Opening of this luxury city centre restaurant hits 'major delays'

HullBID’s executive director is this month celebrating a decade working at the organisation.  Ms Shillito said during her 10 years with HullBID, she had seen “a renewed sense of optimism” in the city, and highlighted the impact the Bonus Arena had made since opening last year.

HullBID was only the second BID in Yorkshire to be set up, back in 2006, and has since provided inspiration to cities such as Leeds and Sunderland.

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