COVENTRY’S monthly footfall peaked during the Christmas period with more than 1.6 million visitors to the city centre, according to Coventry Business Improvement District (BID).
But the city centre continues to face major challenges after more than a decade of decline and empty units – with all town centres also under pressure from internet shopping.
It is a year to go until the UK City of Culture 2021 celebrations begin, and Coventry BID says the city’s footfall was up 81,917 in the last week of December alone, compared with 2018 figures.
The BID is a collection of city centre businesses who come together to improve their area, raising a levy from members to do so.
Visitors had the opportunity to join in with a range of #YuleLoveCov festivities, which began with the Christmas Light Switch On and incorporated food, shopping, music and family events.
Footfall exceeded over a million people every month in 2019 and in September, hit over 1.5million when UK and international students were welcomed to Coventry University at the start of the new academic term, BID says.
The city centre has for years in the last decade struggled behind 50 or 60 towns and cities for retail performance, despite being just outside the country’s top 10 cities for population size.
Coventry City Council plans to attract more retailers with the Upper Precinct upgrade and the city centre south redevelopment – projects which have also faced challenges in attracting market interest.
But BID says a flurry of new businesses opened in the city in 2019, including travel agency Millington Travel, independent coffee shop Fratelli, craft beer, ale and cider venue Castle Yard Taproom and restaurants such as Lazy Monkey, Wok to Walk and MOD Pizza.
Trish Willetts, Coventry BID Director, said: “2019 has been a very busy and exciting year. As we prepare to shine the spotlight on Coventry for the UK City of Culture in 2021, we’re thrilled to see an increase in visitors to our historic city. We have plenty more up our sleeves for 2020 and will continue to welcome visitors from far and wide to showcase what we have to offer.”
Trish continues: “We have a wealth of new businesses arriving in the city this year, as well as more exciting events and activities for everyone to enjoy. This is only the beginning and we can’t wait to get stuck in!”
BID says 2020 will see the opening of further restaurants and bars, retail venues, boutique hotels and quirky accommodation opening in Coventry – to be announced in due course.