What bosses say as one million fewer people recorded in Hull city centre than two years ago
By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 12 Jan 2018
HullBID say they believe Hull city centre has seen an increase in new businesses despite “less than footfall than anticipated” in the area.
Kathryn Shillito, city centre manager of HullBID, says that footfall cameras in six locations across the city picked up less footfall than predicted, but these statistics “do not always reflect the actual number” of people in the city.
Footfall cameras saw shoppers passed by a total of 8,801,937 times in the last three months of 2017.
This figure showed a small increase from the number of people picked up by the cameras in 2016, but was around one million less than the number of people seen by the cameras in the same period in 2015.
HullBID has six footfall cameras located in St Stephens, Brook St, Jameson St, King Edward St, Whitefriargate, Prospect St, and a new one is to be installed in Humber St.
Ms Shillito says that the City of Culture has nevertheless been phenomenal for the city centre, and believes that people have been “dwelling” in the city for longer.
“The footfall figures are not the only way to measure success and 2017 was a phenomenal year,” she said.
“City of Culture could be viewed as the launchpad of the city’s emerging prominence – look at the international media’s positive portrayal of the city - but the legacy will continue long term.
“Although the footfall numbers for 2017 weren’t quite as high as anticipated, we don’t see this as a negative. Dwell time will have been longer and inevitably people will have eaten, drank and shopped.
“As we know, the City of Culture team will be releasing the analysis of the year March or April time and we are currently drawing our own stats together, but early indications show a good increase of new businesses, not just retail, opening compared to 2016.”
She says that the footfall cameras do not paint the most accurate picture, saying that people coming into the city centre for events may not have been picked up on camera.
Ms Shillito said: “In an ideal world we’d have cameras on every main city street to give us an accurate picture but this isn’t feasible due to costs.
“When the bigger city of culture events were on people entering the city may not have even passed a camera.
“For example, someone coming from the interchange may have walked down Carr Lane directly into Queen Victoria Square, crossed over and gone along Princes Dock St and onto the marina without being counted.”
Councillors are involved in a scrutiny review into why the city centre has been labelled a ghost town after 5pm, and the HullBID city centre manager says that low wages and out of town retail parks are significant reasons for lower than anticipated footfall.
Last month, plans to extend Kingswood’s retail park were rejected by an independent inspector after planning permission for a £32m scheme was twice rejected by Hull City Council. It was argued the move would undermine efforts to improve the city centre.
She said: “Online shopping and supermarkets expanding their ranges has inevitably changed the habits of shoppers, and we know out of town retail parks are faring well compared to the high street.
“As it has been well-documented, the out of town retail centres have had a pull on footfall. When I talk about last year being a success, it is not just about footfall but all the other stuff as well, including the interest in investment we expect for 2018.
“Investment, particularly into providing residential, is booming. Eventually we may become less reliant on driving visitors into the city centre as more residents will be utilising retailers, services and food and beverage providers directly on their doorstep.”