MAJOR roadworks and the opening of new out-of-town shopping centres like John Lewis at home contributed to a fall in sales at shops in the heart of the town in the run up to Christmas.

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The amount of money spent by retailers in the town centre fell by 2.9 per cent during November and December compared with the same period in 2011.

The figures were compiled by Ipswich Central, which runs the Business Improvement District (BID) in the heart of the town.

Chief executive Paul Clement said the perception that the town centre was difficult to reach because of the major roadworks had harmed sales in November.

That was also the month that the new Waitrose/John Lewis at home store opened on the edge of Ipswich – which, he said, would inevitably have attracted some shoppers who would otherwise have spent money in the town.

He warned that local authorities needed to have more regard to the viability of the town centre when they looked at the impact on possible developments.

Mr Clement said: “Trade on the high street continues to be really tough but, overall, Ipswich fared satisfactorily.

“The recent news about Jessops and HMV shows how major names struggled up and down the country.

“This last Christmas, out of town openings and some negative perceptions caused by roadworks, added to this climate in Ipswich which was unfortunate.

“If places like Ipswich want their high streets to recover there are some dramatic changes which need to take place.

“First and foremost, everyone concerned has to adopt a ‘town centre first’ policy to ensure that businesses are retained in the town centre and that new names are attracted there.

“Everything possible must be done to prioritise the needs of every town centre, above and beyond all other initiatives. Town centres are the very characters of places and successful centres attract untold wider investment.”

The figures for Ipswich do not look good in comparison with the rest of the county.

Nationally retailers reported an increase in spending of just over 1.6pc for the last two months of 2012 in a survey run by the British Retail Consortium – but this included online sales which rose 17.8pc.

If those figures are stripped out, there was a fall of 0.3pc in spending during December.

Richard Dodd from the BRC said town centres needed to adapt to meet the challenges from online stores.

“The retail landscape is changing – about 10pc of purchases are now made online and that is set to increase.

“But the increase in the number of people using tablets and smartphones mean they are checking prices between stores and websites while out shopping – and there is also the rise of click and collect.

“Increasingly the differences between instore and online shopping are becoming blurred – but it is necessary for town centres to look at other business opportunities, not just retail.”

Is enough done to encourage shoppers to use the town centre? How would you boost Ipswich retailers? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail starletters@archant.co.uk

21 comments

  • Chris D... Its about convenience. What is so great about paying for the privilege of parking when I can shop online and park at shops for free? The whole idea of a 'town centre' where people go to get what the need want is rapidly going the way of the dodo. Adapt or die. Give people what they want and they will come. A town centre that has bespoke shops, attractions and good restaurants and pubs will always win over a town that is obsessed with 'shoppers' and 'retail figures' as its only redeeming feature

    Report this comment

    fuztownsend

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

  • With two giant superstores pending on the outskirts and fringe of Felixstowe town centre I hope the relevant councils take note of this article.

    Report this comment

    Alan Smith

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

  • Its simple. Out of town shops and supermarkets offer most if not all of the things you can buy in the town centre and you do not have to pay for parking. I did all my Christmas shopping online and out of town shops. If Paul Clement blames 'roadworks' instead of seeing the clear issue of parking costs he is delusional

    Report this comment

    fuztownsend

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

  • Would be interesting to see the figures for Norwich, Colchester and Bury - I visited all three to do my Xmas shopping in the lead up to Christmas. What a fantastic experience Bury's Christmas fair was compared to Ipswich's pathetic effort.We spent the whole day there enjoying the entertainment and the continental foods and experiencing the real buzz and excitement of Christmas. People had come from all over the region. I saw at least 100 coaches parked up. Ipswich has missed the boat yet again. Can't imagine anything like Norwich's Chaplefields ever being built in Ipswich. Too much hope and importance is being placed on the Waterfront where there will not be any retail business of interest and the area will live in an amputated existence to the town centre. Ipswich is in terminal decline as a regional centre due to lack of foresight and investment coupled with the blind conviction of those who try to convince us of the Emperor's new clothes which we are told adorn Ipswich.

    Report this comment

    Billy Knowbend

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

  • @ David White - you're confusing number of visitors with money spent. It doesn't state whether actualy visitor numbers were up or down, just the the total amout spent. It's entirely possible more people visited, but they simply had less money to spend this year.

    Report this comment

    Scott Brock

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

  • Mr Clement and Ipswich Central has failed. good quality decorations are not a substitute for poor quality shops. And Ipswich Red... the real reason for all this, is the previous Labour government... try to remember to take your own fair share of blame sometimes otherwise you just sound silly

    Report this comment

    Fat Lady Sings

    Friday, January 18, 2013

  • I would love to have done my xmas shopping in Ipswich town centre, if only there had been any decent shops and reasonably priced parking I would have been able to but after one attempt, a ludicrous amount spent to park for 3 hours and finding few shops with anything I needed I gave up. Sad to say but online shopping is not only cheaper, the choice is so much better and when money is tight I want to get the best value I can for every pound spent and that's not something Ipswich offered this year!

    Report this comment

    MZH

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

  • As has been said it is hardly surprising trading figures have been down owing to major roadworks crippling the roads what seems like for years in some cases. I can't remember the last time there wasn't queues on Bishops Hill due to major roadworks these last 3 years or so. Less shops means less sales. The council is pre-occupied with non needed newbuild in an already overcrowed small town. It's more interested in the monies it receives from the likes the Duke Street Travelodge and the & the Premier Inn in Key Street. Great idea that, to build Hotels in an already congested area. No one that shops in Ipswich likes Ipswich. It's about time the basket case of a council took note. Expect more of the same this year.

    Report this comment

    Chris D

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

  • With two giant superstores pending on the outskirts and fringe of Felixstowe town centre I hope the relevant councils take note of this article.

    Report this comment

    Alan Smith

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

  • Billy Knowbend: You have summed it up completely,

    Report this comment

    england1770

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

  • im not sure why John Lewis is being blames, non of the stores in town center sell the same sort of stock as a whole as John lewis, stop putting the blame elsewhere and point it directly at the council, less shops due to city level business rates, and expensive city priced car parking.

    Report this comment

    tony cowling

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

  • As has been said it is hardly surprising trading figures have been down owing to major roadworks crippling the roads what seems like for years in some cases. I can't remember the last time there wasn't queues on Bishops Hill due to major roadworks these last 3 years or so. Less shops means less sales. The council is pre-occupied with non needed newbuild in an already overcrowed small town. It's more interested in the monies it receives from the likes the Duke Street Travelodge and the & the Premier Inn in Key Street. Great idea that, to build Hotels in an already congested area. No one that shops in Ipswich likes Ipswich. It's about time the basket case of a council took note. Expect more of the same this year.

    Report this comment

    Chris D

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

  • Dramatic changes certainly are required, but by whom. To adopt a 'town centre first' policy it first requires something to attract interest and make customers want to go into the town centre. Marks & Spencer apart there is nothing, I repeat NOTHING to attract me and obviously many others into going into the town centre. Mr Clement, you clearly do not understand the chicken and egg policy, namely, do something to make the town centre interesting to get people in and I mean people who want to spend money then broadcast the merits of this wonderful town centre and how sales are on the up and up and maybe, just maybe, other high profile retailers will come and the town centre will be even more attractive. Go on, you know it makes sense. I also agree most strongly about the meters in Fonnereau Road. On occasions when I wanted a quick visit to M&S the lure of free parking for an hour got me into the town centre. Greed has killed this one off for me and many others I suspect. Another big mistake. So the gauntlet is down Mr Clement, make the town centre an attractive retailing experience and I for one would be more than happy to pay £1 an hour to park to make 'town centre first'. Over, and at the present time out.

    Report this comment

    how'd the town do

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

  • I can recall Mr. Clement stating on BBC Radio that the new artificial Xmas tree with attract visitors to the heart of the shopping centre. Yet another misjudgment by the team at Ipswich Central? Why oh why do we need these people?

    Report this comment

    David White

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

  • is'nt this proof enough for the anti car council , if people can't get there car in they will go to where they can , the only town's and citie's that will survive is car friendly one's

    Report this comment

    gilson

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

  • And our council introduced parking meters down fonnereau road, where no one park now as it cost a fortune for one hour, I used to park there , go to townmarket , not anymore , free parking at out of town,

    Report this comment

    this is what we pay tax for

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

  • No mention in this article of the real reason why sales have fallen in Ipswich town centre - the Tory led coalition are squeezing the life out of people's incomes! You cannot put up VAT to 20%, cut people's wages, pensions and benefits and expect them to keep spending money

    Report this comment

    Ipswich Red

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

  • Reading all these comments it seems clear. The concept of a town centre being a place where you do your shopping is slowly but surely on its way out. A place for the community to gather, eat,drink, socialise, educate and entertain themselves, sure, but to shop..no

    Report this comment

    fuztownsend

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

  • Ah Scott Brock. It would be interesting to compare the figures and visitor numbers with those of Bury St Edmunds wouldn't it?

    Report this comment

    england1770

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

  • Interesting that IBC are conspicuous by their absence from the report?

    Report this comment

    Erm, Why?

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

  • Regarding parking costs yes they are high but until the culture of trying to get your 1-passenger car as near to your shop of choice changes, it won't change. Try Park & Ride?

    Report this comment

    Chris D

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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