Islanders vote with their feet and pay fewer visits to town centre

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TOWN footfall is down by almost a quarter compared to pre-pandemic levels, new figures have shown.

The 24% drop equated to around 250,000 fewer visitors in August this year compared to the same month in 2019, according to recent data from Springboard, a company which tracks consumer behaviour.

Restaurateur Dominic Jones attributed the decline to ‘changing consumer habits’ since Covid, and a growing preference for working from home and online shopping.

He also highlighted the impact of the cost-of-living crisis and ongoing building works in St Helier, both of which he said meant Islanders were less inclined to go shopping in town.

Mr Jones’s comments were echoed by town centre manager Connor Burgher, who put it down to remote working but also to there being fewer visitors to the Island.

Mr Burgher said he remained optimistic, pointing out that footfall had improved year on year since the pandemic began, and he anticipated continued growth, albeit not ‘overnight’.

Pedestrianising areas of town and hosting more events were part of the solution to falling footfall, according to the Economic Development Minister.

Deputy Kirsten Morel said: ‘Through collaborative efforts, we are focused on developing St Helier to provide events and experiences that will get people there.’

Deputy Morel also said that measures such as permitting French daytrippers to visit Jersey on their national ID cards had helped to increase tourist numbers in town.

The government is also working on a pilot project with consultant Sasha Gibb, along with private-sector partners, to improve the public realm. The Public Voice: Common Ground initiative, which includes temporary pop-up green spaces, aims to encourage Islanders to use the space available in town.

Mrs Gibb said she believed that the decrease in footfall was down to a perception that St Helier lacked green spaces and communal areas.

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