Ipswich sees second highest rise in UK for non-essential shop visits

Primark was a popular choice with shoppers seeing queues all the way up the high street. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Primark was a popular choice with shoppers seeing queues all the way up the high street. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Ipswich has seen the second highest rise in visits to non-essential stores in the UK since the return of shoppers on April 12, with business leaders welcoming the rise in footfall and urging people to support local. 

Non-essential retail was allowed to reopen its doors on Monday, April 12, with Ipswich's high street seeing an influx of shoppers as eager customers queued outside Primark and Debenhams from the early hours. 

One street trader even said last Saturday was "busier than Christmas", as people enjoyed heading to the town to browse in the shops. 

Andy Walker, head of policy and public affairs at Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said: “It’s great that so many people visit Ipswich and it just shows the strength in-depth of our cultural and historic assets.

"At a time when high-streets and retail are changing so fundamentally, it’s vital that we work with local stakeholders to promote Ipswich and the town for further investment which will build on these visitor numbers and help to consolidate the potential and future regeneration of the county town."

New data from mobility research business Huq, highlighted the UK’s top 10 busiest towns and cities for both footfall and in-store retail in the week since non-essential stores reopened. 

Ipswich saw the second greatest rise in people actually going into non-essential stores, which was up 183.3% from April 12 to April 19, on the previous week. 

This is to be expected, however, as in the week preceding stores were closed, but there were still staff working in stores, click and collect services and maintenance continuing. 

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Out of UK towns and cities, Ipswich saw the second biggest jump in visitors returning to non-essential shops, above cities such as London, Manchester and Nottingham. 

Huq's research comes from real-time population mobility data, comprised of more than one billion mobile geo-location data-points daily. 

Councillor Colin Kreidewolf, who represents the Westgate ward in Ipswich, said it is great that people are coming to Ipswich to shop, but urged them to support local businesses. 

He said: "The fact that people are coming to Ipswich to seek out shops is good news and is a positive for the town and supportive of the wider offering in the town centre. 

"We hope to bring forward more ideas through the Town Deal Board in the months to come to generate further interest in the town. 

Cllr Colin Kreidewolf outside the new Handford Homes development in Ipswich.
Credit: Sonya Duncan

Councillor Colin Kreidewolf - Credit: Sonya Duncan

"It is very important that people shop local.

"There are some excellent local shops and many will argue that local specialist retailers who know the market locally that can offer superior services are the way forward for the high-street."

CEO of Ipswich Central, Paul Clement, added: "I think it is heartening to hear that the Ipswich offer remains attractive, but we know we have an awful lot to do to maintain that post Covid, and the plans we have recently announced for the 'Connected Town' are the way in which we shall tackle it."

Chelmsford topped the list for footfall, according to Huq's data, with an increase of 71.9% over the past week.