Call to turn window shoppers into customers

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BLACKPOOL’S town centre manager today urged traders to do all they can to turn extra footfall in the town into takings.

Eileen Ormand, the Business Improvement District manager, has given a cautious welcome to increased visitor numbers in the town centre - but wants to make sure Blackpool’s businesses get the benefits.

She said: “Considering all of the bank holidays we’ve had, footfall has been very much up throughout April.

“But the national figures relating to spending are not good figures.

“The lesson we need to learn is how to convert that extra footfall into sales in the town centre.

“I’m concerned that my retailers are having to work so much harder for their earnings now.

“Over the bank holidays, St Johns looked amazing with the markets and big wheel really drawing people in. But it is concerning times for traders.”

Blackpool’s Houndshill centre this week announced it had bucked the recession, with an increase of 25,000 visitors from January to March on last year.

The 1.2 per cent increase was dwarfed by the 20.1 per cent increase in footfall over Easter, thanks to the proliferation of bank holidays.

The rise in visitors for the first quarter bodes well after visitor figures were announced for last year. More than 13 million people visited the resort last year - a 10-year high and eight per cent rise on the previous year’s figures.

That made the Golden Mile the most visited seaside resort in the UK – beating the likes of Brighton, Skegness and Newquay which has seen visitors desert its Cornish shores in droves. Figures released today show a rise of one million visits to Blackpool in 2010 compared to 2009, a rise of eight per cent.

Claire Smith, president of StayBlackpool, said: “Bookings are most definitely picking up for the season and this report is particularly encouraging but we cannot rest on our laurels.

“We still need to encourage people to come to Blackpool and look after them well while they are here so they come again.”

“Blackpool couldn’t do any more to attract visitors this summer, we have so much going on. Never before have we had a better opportunity.”