Bedford shops saw surge in business thanks to last minute Christmas shoppers

Bedford College has purchased many of the �1 Million vouchers sold. College CEO Ian Pryce CBE is backing Love Bedford, here with BID Director Christina Rowe
Bedford College has purchased many of the �1 Million vouchers sold. College CEO Ian Pryce CBE is backing Love Bedford, here with BID Director Christina Rowe

Visitor figures show there was a last minute dash to Bedford before Christmas, and this has been interpreted as good news.

Town centre marketing chiefs say there was a 26.8 per cent rise in visits to town – called ‘footfall’ – in Bedford compared to the previous week.

This means that the sound of jingle bells turned into jingle tills in those crucial last few trading days.

Christina Rowe, director of the Bedford Business Improvement District (BID), which markets the town centre under the Love Bedford brand, said: “We came through strongly with a last-minute rush to the retailers, which we have been promoting all year.

“The snow earlier in December probably contributed to a drop in visitors, combined with reports of rises in online shopping in 2017. But this was the same for all town centres. Where Bedford scored was in that last week.”

Sales of Love Bedford gift vouchers hit the £1 million mark prior to Christmas and added to this online sales trebled in December compared to 2016.

Meanwhile, visitors to Arcadia sweetshop bought thousands of pounds worth of vouchers – as an extra treat for family and friends. Those will be redeemed in January and the rest of 2018 – keeping customers coming back to Bedford to spend in more than 270 outlets.

Restaurants and cafes also benefited from the rush during the day with office and group gatherings at night helping business.

Dave Hardman, spokesman for Albero Lounge at the new Riverside Bedford, added that he was delighted with their first Christmas and New Year in Bedford.