LIVERPOOL’S high street continues to buck trends, with footfall in 2018 up by 2.4% on the previous year, representing three years of consecutive growth.
Liverpool BID Company, which represents and champions retailers in the city and who compiled the figures, believe the diverse and evolving nature of the city’s retail and leisure offer is what is keeping people coming back into the city centre. It also attributes an annual programme of events and animation within its Retail & Leisure BID area.
In comparison, Liverpool’s northern competitors reported a -1.5% drop in footfall for the same year, and an even bleaker picture nationally, with the UK as a whole reporting a -2.5% slump.
Bill Addy, chief executive, Liverpool BID Company, said: “These figures come despite growing competition from online shopping, and during a year when retailers and shoppers experienced transport disruption including the closure of Lime Street station and strike action affecting both our bus and train networks. The figures endorse the work we are doing to attract more people into the city centre, but also demonstrates the resilience of our levy paying businesses. We need to celebrate our high street and retailers more and recognise the incredible hard work they are doing in keeping Liverpool’s high street alive and kicking.”
In Liverpool, the world’s largest Lush store will open this year in the former Dorothy Perkins building, while ongoing investment has welcomed new brands to Metquarter, including the UK’s largest independent retailer for kids clothing, Kids Cavern, and the boutique cinema chain, Everyman. In 2019 Metquarter will see independent designer clothing store, Cricket, open its flagship boutique and completion on HUGO BOSS’ expansion.
Jennina O’Neill, Metquarter centre manager, said: “We’re in negotiations with some fantastic brands and will continue to bring new and exciting labels to the city, along with exclusive collaborations with our established, existing brands.”
St Johns Shopping Centre also defied the national decline on the high street in 2018 to show an increase in shoppers and revenue. The centre welcomed 13 million shoppers over the year, up more than 400,000 on 2017 and a rise of 2% in footfall. While UK retailers struggled to keep pace with online competition, St Johns outperformed the national figures with a 1% increase in sales.
General Manager, Neil Ashcroft, said: “St Johns is very much at the heart of the city, and a valued part of the community, and we’re going into 2019 – our own 50th birthday – with great loyalty from customers and a genuine optimism.”
Elsewhere on the high street, Liverpool BID Company is working with partners at the city council, Liverpool Playhouse theatre and businesses in the area to devise a vision to re-imagine Williamson Square.
The leisure and hospitality sector is also playing its part. It was recently announced that Australian hotel chain Quest plan to open its first hotel in the UK on Church Street – representing a £10m investment. Clayton Square is also set to welcome Lane7 – a high-end, bowling alley and dining venue, in 2019.
Bill Addy, concluded: “It is a difficult time for high streets nationally – and while footfall in Liverpool grows, we will not rest on our laurels. The high street needs to evolve to survive and we will do our part by continuing to deliver on the £5m masterplan improving the trading environment for our levy paying businesses in Liverpool city centre.”