Clipboards on Cornhill: your time is up!

MARKETING "pouncers" may soon be banned from the streets of Ipswich if town centre chiefs get their way.Town managers are poring over ancient bye-laws in a bid to ban market researchers can prove a nuisance to or even deter shoppers.

MARKETING "pouncers" may soon be banned from the streets of Ipswich if town centre chiefs get their way.

Town managers are poring over ancient bye-laws in a bid to ban market researchers can prove a nuisance to or even deter shoppers.

Retailers want to ban marketeers from the busy Cornhill area because they discourage shoppers from "running the gauntlet" of the town centre.

Ipswich is loved by national marketing companies who view Suffolk people as a "friendly" barometer to future trends.

And with the cross of busy Westgate and Tavern Street, the crowded Cornhill can see up to 50,000 people crossing it daily.

But harassed shoppers, many on precious lunch breaks, are forced to use a variety of tactics to dodge them.

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One said: "I pretend I'm on the phone. If I do come into town I go the back way to avoid the routes where I know they will be."

John Stebbings, town centre manager, said: "Whether it's market researchers undertaking studies into new products or advertising, sales people wishing you to sign up for a shopping catalogue or street peddlers - there seems to be more of them."

Mr Stebbings said: "We are very concerned over the affect of this on visitors to the town centre as you often feel you are running the gauntlet across the Cornhill."

David Berridge, executive member of the Ipswich Partnership, said: "We clearly have a problem in the number of people who are stopping shoppers for whatever reason in our town centre. The partnership is working with other agencies to find solutions to this problem.

"Maybe we are victims of our own success, Ipswich is achieving a higher status in its popularity and this often brings new challenges."

Marketing gurus defended the pouncers.

Trevor White, head of Ipswich-based company Marketing Solutions, said: "Market research is a valuable marketing tool. In the old days it used to be the case that companies produced something and then tried to sell it in the market place. Now companies try to establish the market before they produce anything."

National companies such as Proctor and Gamble contact local agencies or have local contacts to provide them with the fleet of market researchers.

He advised shoppers to be "firm and polite" to deter unwanted researchers.

According to the Marketing Research Society's code of conduct, pouncers must not try to persuade people to take part at times that are inconvenient to them.

If rejected, they add, "accept a refusal without question, at once, and with a smile."

Mr White also reminded shoppers the pouncers are notoriously badly paid.

"So don't be too horrible to them," he said.

Weblinks: www.marketresearch.org.uk

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