Super Saturday for shoppers in Weston despite national downturn

As high streets across the country report a reduction in footfall numbers, with retail intelligence firm Springboard reporting a 9.1% fall on high street trading for the last Saturday before Christmas, Weston-super-Mare’s Sovereign shopping centre saw a brisk weekend of trade with over 27,000 individuals visiting the centre and a rise of 9% of families using the centre’s car park as they visited the shopping centre, high street and seafront.

Shoppers headed to the Sovereign Centre in their droves, despite storm Diedre battering the coastal town, thanks in part to a last-minute change of venue for the popular eat:Christmas, food festival.

Nigel Ashton, Leader of North Somerset Council, said: “Pop-up shops are not unusual in a shopping centre. Food festivals moving into shopping centres with just 36 hours’ notice are. This event is incredibly popular, and I’m not surprised the footfall numbers reflect this. Owning the shopping centre allows us to be flexible and move with the needs of the community, turning the centre into a modern, multi-use space with retail at its heart.”

Organiser of eat:Christmas, Bev Milner Simonds, said: “On a day when pretty much every other outdoor event was cancelled in the South West, we showed that through careful planning and teamwork a safe, welcoming festival can still be delivered.
North Somerset Council offering the shopping centre just 36 hours before the start of the event saved us from cancelling due to the extremely high winds that were forecast.

“Our producers and production partners reacted very positively – we work with micro and small businesses and for many this was their last opportunity for sales before Christmas and a cancellation would have meant wasted stock and lost revenue.

“It is great to hear anecdotal feedback from other businesses in the Sovereign Centre that they had higher than expected footfall – it wasn’t easy from an operational perspective, but we pride ourselves on delivering for our #eatfestivalsfamily and we are thrilled to go into the festive season knowing our producers, the local business and the many thousands who visited us had a great day out filling their fridges with fantastic local produce.”

North Somerset Council purchased the Sovereign Shopping Centre, as part of its commercial investment strategy. The council expects to generate £1m a year from the site, which will be put back into vital local services.

The Sovereign Centre is part of the Weston Town Centre Regeneration Programme which is delivering improvements to key sites within the town and encouraging inward investment.

The vision for the town centre is focused on the themes of living, learning and lifestyle, with plans to attract more people to live in the town centre, creating a lively university town which will further improve the local economy.