Fewer shoppers visiting town than years ago

Hough Lane, Leyland
Hough Lane, Leyland

The number of daily shoppers visiting Leyland town centre has dropped by almost 800 in a four-year period.

A report called the ‘Leyland Town Centre Retail Position Paper’ also shows that the number of vacant properties increased from eight to 24 between 2007 and 2012.

The document, published by South Ribble Council, demonstrates that between 2008 and 2012, the number of people visiting the town on non-market days dropped from 2,036 to 1,257.

Market days saw a less drastic decline, from 2,816 to 2,611 shoppers in the town.

Keith Bradshaw, chairman of the Leyland Town Team and the BB4B (Business Before Breakfast) networking events, hopes more people will start to see the benefits of supporting local trade.

He said: “It’s disappointing that fewer people seem to be visiting the town centre than a few years ago, although a lot of independent traders seem to be doing well in Leyland.

“Hopefully shoppers will choose to stay local in the run up to Christmas to see what present ideas they can get from the high street, instead of opting to go to big chain stores or larger towns out of the area.”

Whilst the number of vacant properties has increased

over the research period, there has been a rise in the town in the number of shops (up from 122 to 123), restaurants and cafes (from seven to 12), pubs (from six to seven) and takeaways (from 17 to 20).

There has been a drop in the amount of financial and professional services (from 56 to 46).

The Leyland Town Centre Retail Position Paper outlines the need to boost trade in Leyland, which is regarded as ‘the main shopping centre in South Ribble’.

It reads: “It is important that Leyland retains its status within the retail hierarchy, remains competitive with its neighbours, and continues to attract shoppers, visitors and businesses to the town.

“Whilst it is accepted that people will go to other centres for certain products, it is important that the town builds on its strengths, alleviates its weaknesses and improves the facilities that it provides to the community.”

Now, the council is aiming to help independent businesses to thrive, in the hope of attracting more visitors to the town centre in future.

The council offers advice on starting businesses, government backed loan schemes, connections to sources of funding, networking opportunities, and helping businesses manage risk and unplanned disruption.

It has supported 509 businesses over the last two years across the borough.

The council’s cabinet member for regeneration, leisure and healthy communities, Coun Phil Smith, said: “South Ribble is a great place to invest and do business and working together with local businesses is something we are very proud of.

“We provide a supportive environment for our existing local businesses and to attract new businesses to the borough to grow and invest here.”