Hope as town footfall rises

Footfall in Border town centres has risen for the first time in two years, according to an annual survey carried out by Scottish Borders Council (SBC).

SBC reported the encouraging sign of a one per cent increase in 2012, which compares with successive decline over the past two years of 7.9 and 7.6 per cent across the region.

A growth was noted this year in all town centres except Hawick and Peebles. Since the first survey in 2007, figures have dropped in line with the national and UK picture on retail centres. The average decline in footfall from 2007 to 2011 across the Borders as a whole was 17 per cent. This affected all centres, but especially Duns and Selkirk which suffered decreases of 27 and 30 per cent respectively.

Between 2010 and 2011 there was an average decline of 7.6 per cent in the region compared to a Scottish average fall of 9 per cent. All the surveys took place on Fridays and Saturdays during the months of September and October. Councillor Stuart Bell, SBC’s Executive Member for Economic Development said: “Whilst there are significant challenges and pressures faced by our town centres from the economic downturn and the rise in the use of internet shopping, this survey does give some grounds for hope.

“The council is very conscious of the vital role that our town centres play in the economic and social life of the Borders and will continue to promote projects aimed at improving their future prospects. Projects have included town centre improvements in Melrose and Galashiels, and there are town heritage projects in Kelso and Selkirk being taken forward.”