Southport enjoys significant rise in visitor numbers

More than 5m people have visited Southport so far this year, new data shows, an increase on both 2020 and before the pandemic in 2019. Andrew Brown reports

Beales
Southport has seen a significant increase in footfall so far in 2021. Photo by Andrew Brown Media

 

More than 5m people have visited Southport so far this year – 16.6% up on the pandemic year of 2020 but also 5.1% higher than the same point in 2019.

Total number of visitors to the town for the year to date is 5,065,024. Southport is doing well compared to other areas of the country. Overall, visitor numbers to the North and Yorkshire is still down 14% on 2019 and 21.7% down for the whole of the UK.

The latest footfall figures were compiled by Springboard Research. It is believed growth is being driven by significant Government and private investment into Southport.

Lates week, the new Beales department store opened – the third Beales store in the UK and the first in the North of England – while the new Southport Market food, drink and events venue opened in July following a £1.4m transformation led by Sefton Council and supported by Town Deal funding.

READ MORE: Five projects that will transform Southport

Southport Business Improvement District (Southport BID), working with contractors IllumiDex UK, created ‘a boulevard of light’ with 300,000 lights along the mile-long Lord Street earlier this year to boost the town’s night-time economy. The scheme was praised by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Parliament. 

And the £38.5m awarded to Southport by the Government through the Towns Fund is set to secure schemes including a new Lakeside Events Centre and a spectacular light show in the Marine Lake. 

Southport has also been buoyed by the current UK staycation boom with attractions such as Southport Pleasureland now fully operational after lockdown, and popular events such as the British Musical Fireworks, Southport Food and Drink Festival and Southport Comedy Festival all returning. 

Southport BID business engagement manager Luke Randles said: “After the difficulties that businesses have faced over the last 18 months, it’s fantastic to see how our town centre is emerging stronger than ever. 

“These footfall figures reaffirm the recent feedback we have received from both Southport businesses and residents, and show just how important high-quality retail is to our high streets. This data, coupled with the recent streak of news regarding investment, shows that Southport has the infrastructure in place to continue with a positive trend.”

The continuing attraction of Southport to visitors has been further boosted by last week’s opening of the new three-storey Beales department store on Lord Street, following an £800,000 investment and leading to the creation of 40 new jobs. 

Last week hundreds of shoppers queued outside ready for the grand opening. The busiest day for visitors last week, according to Springboard, was Thursday, when more tan 43,000 people came to Southport – the day that Beales opened. 

Beales chief executive Tony Brown said: “These figures are really good news for Southport. I am incredibly pleased that the opening of Beales has helped to make such a difference, especially in the continued revitalisation of Lord Street. Our new store is currently trading beyond our expectations. 

Tony Brown
Tony Brown has reopened Beales in Southport. Picture by Andrew Brown Media

 

“We are very pleased with the direction, the product mix and the product placement on offer. We still have more new brands to come in and join us.”

Sefton Council Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Skills, Cllr Marion Atkinson, added: “It’s fantastic news that there has been an increase in footfall in Southport this year and indicates a step in the right direction as we look for the local economy to bounce back post-pandemic. It also demonstrates the clear confidence being shown by private investors right here in Sefton.

“The new Southport Market has been open just short of a month now and the overall feedback has been extremely positive. Tens of thousands of residents and visitors have sampled the amazing food and drink on offer there, and I’m certain that their visits are translating into a much-needed boost for other business across the town centre.

“The wider benefits of the council’s investment in Southport is already becoming apparent, not only with the increased footfall but a number of longer-term vacant units around the market now becoming occupied.

“We look forward to implementing more exciting plans at Southport Market, plus we have the hugely exciting Events Centre to come as the next stage of the Southport Town Deal.”

If you are a BID business and would like more information on the weekly footfall figures, contact info@southportbid.com or luke@southportbid.com

This article first appeared in Stand Up For Southport

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