Dartmouth footfall - week 46














Here are the footfall results for week 46, week beginning November 13th:

Note that after the last report I received an email from the manager of our Marks & Spencer store see below:

Harte, Roger [email protected]

Nov 15 (6 days ago)

to STRDartmouthSMme
 Good afternoon all.
After reading the footfall numbers for your week 45, I assume week end 11/11/17, our footfall counters indicated a decline of 5.4% for the same week.

I understand that your camera is on the river front and may reflect an adverse number in poor weather and is probably not a true indicator of commercial visitors.

However, the wider SW as per M&S footfall counters showed an increase of 1.5% on LY for the same period.


Roger Harte


Marks and Spencer Dartmouth

This would seem to confirm that the footfall drop is exaggerating the actual drop in economic activity experienced in the town. However we must remember this is a comparison year on year for the same location.  I am sure the businesses of Dartmouth are able to react to the reduced footfall and increase their business by other means, so I am not suggesting that economic activity has dropped in line with the footfall drop by, for instance, 30% last week.

However I still believe that the footfall drop is something that we must react to as a town or the long term economic effect will be greater than it is so far.



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  1. Paul, we should be pleased that M&S footfall isn’t dropping. The loss of M&S to the town centre would be a catastrophic blow to business.

    • I agree it is not as bad as the footfall drop suggests but the point he is making is that when M&S footfall is increasing across the country by 1.5% and Dartmouth is down by 5.4% that is a net drop of -6.9%. Still a problem but not as big as thew footfall numbers show. That is perhaps to be expected but my point is the footfall drop will have a long term effect if it is allowed to continue its decline. I am drawing on my experience in business where you must react quickly to changes like we are seeing in Dartmouth. Looking for excuses or mitigating circumstances (such as you can see in many of the comments here!) is the wrong response.

  2. Well, that’s a relief! Many thanks to Mr Harte for his contribution to this perceived problem. This much smaller decrease in footfall in the town can easily be attributed to the loss of Townstal residents who don’t have to come ‘down the hill’ to purchase food anymore. In fact, I am sure that many of the residents in the old town will be driving ‘up the hill’ to visit Lidl and Sainsbury’s so it seems that the footfall could well be much lower than that. Perhaps the footfall is actually growing??

    • You could of course be right Gina but is it wise to assume that to be the case. I still believe we need to understand the trend better than we do. How we do it is another question. Note also that in the same week the West Country was up by 3.7% which makes our figures a higher net reduction.

  3. There are clearly some question marks about the validity of the data, bearing in mind the fact that there is only one camera in town. There are also broader questions about what we can usefully glean from footfall counters - they don’t tell us anything about the split between adults and children, whether people are staying in town for hours spending in lots of places, or a few minutes spending nothing. They also don’t tell us where people are going instead of the Quay area. However, the results should not just be dismissed out of hand and do provide some insight. What I think will really help is knowing more about what Springboard classify as the South West benchmark locations. For example, should we compared to Bristol and Taunton, or St Ives and Padstow? Or a mixture of them all? That extra information could then help inform strategies to increase footfall.

    As for Cllrs’ Fyson and Coles suggestion that falling footfall can be attributed to people shopping in Townstal instead of lower town, presumably that’s based on footfall counters in places like Sainsbury’s and Lidl that they have access the data from? If not, aren’t they just guessing or basing it on anecdotal information? Perhaps it can be covered in the next Town Council meeting during the Visitor Information Centre update?

  4. Some might declare that I should be boiled in oil for not shopping in the Lower Town..once the Market Hub of Dartmouth when my family arrived and settled down in 1959..but living at Townstal it’s easy to visit the big retail boys and the parking is available and free.
    Ed has questioned if Sainsburys and Lidl have a benchmark in footfall market research, easily answered, I see so many all year round residents of Dartmouth and surrounding villages shopping at these stores and they do shop there for the same reasons, fair pricing, free available parking…now someone will rightly reply,”As a long serving Town Councillor, Steve, what are you going to do about it”? my answer is simple…”It a battle lost”, when Sainsbury’s and Lidl planning applications were submitted warnings shots were fired by the Chamber of Trade that it would knock the stuffing out of Dartmouth as a market trading town and it did, and now Dartmouth has become a day visitor town.
    Many scorn me when I say, when Woolworths closed its doors for good there was no reason to shop in central Dartmouth, Dartmouth has been changed into specialised retail units, items that residents dont have on their shopping lists weekly to keep the family fed.
    I was shocked to visit Paignton and Torquay recently to see so many retail units empty and boarded up..Crossways Paignton once a community retail hub now derelict,
    I share with you as a 16 year old apprentice grocer in 1968, I attended a seminar in London with International Stores Ltd and the subject was, “Out of town Hypermarkets and the dangers of marketing locally” we were warned way back then and its come home to bite us on the butt.
    The stark choice for locals is choice, affordability as the all year round majority of residents live on the Townstal estate, allowing 648 homes in Dartmouth to become second homes in a population less than 6,000 what can you expect…like it or not…it’s fact not fiction…so the million $ question is how can we put this right? I confess I dont have an answer and I sincerely wish that I did, but the fact is if you are ugly like me you have to live with it and make the best of it.

    • Steve you are of course right in stating that Dartmouth is no longer the shopping destination of choice for residents doing their weekly shop. You also state rightly that, like it or not, this is a fact. But I question your statement “how do we put it right?”. This assumes that the change is wrong and I question whether this kind of change is wrong. This is what is happening everywhere in the country driven by customers needs, and the successful towns are the ones that recognise and embrace this change by making it happen the way they want it to happen.

      The problem with your analysis is that it assumes that the only reason to visit Dartmouth lower town is for shopping! Remember when we did the detailed survey of Dartmouth’s attraction to visitors for the BID project. Then shopping was not high on the list. The beauty of the river side location, the History and heritage which is only contained in the lower town, the independent craft shops and galleries, the coastal walks, the dog friendly location, the quality restaurants and coffee bars, the sailing and water sports, the festivals and regatta’s and last but not least the friendly community. There are many reasons why people should want to visit the lower town, and indeed we love to walk into Dartmouth for a coffee because we are guaranteed to meet at least one person for a chat. I think its called the cafe society. This is one of the reasons why I favour pedestrian areas in the lower town because I believe they are more amenable to meeting people for a chat and a coffee (perhaps a slice of coffee cake too!!). In our business we met many people who were visiting from “That London” who were surprised to find that people said hello in the street! You cant beat the friendly ambience of the town.

      However, like all great destinations, we need to make sure we spread the word about how great the town is to the national and international audience that would appreciate it, as well as to locals. Locals also need to understand that visitors are good for our economy, even second homes can be good in the right numbers sustaining a large number of builders and contractors, and shopping in the lower town, and don’t forget that our galleries play a big part in drawing these visitors to the town. So stop complaining about galleries please!!!! (not you Steve).

      My poor wife Brenda gets exasperated whenever I mention the ill fated BID, but as you know most of what I have been involved in in this town, including my time on Council, as Chairman of the Dartmouth Business Forum, as Trustee of the Flavel and founder and Chairman of the Dartmouth BID has been aimed at helping the people of Dartmouth understand how we can take advantage of the gem of a place we live in to stimulate economic growth, job creation and prosperity for the whole town. Tourism is our majority industry sector today, I know that is not ideal as it is seasonal with low paid jobs, but if we are to attract non tourism businesses to the town (an objective of the BID) then we must first prosper in our main sector, Tourism. We can only do this if we use the most effective methods possible to promote the town and its many attractions. In my opinion that is where we are failing today and that is the focus of my outspoken campaign about footfall on this website.

      I am trying to find some way of getting the businesses of Dartmouth to wake up to the problem and realise that no one else is going to fix this problem, only the businesses of Dartmouth can work together to invest in marketing Dartmouth, and until that happens the footfall decline in the lower town will continue. That is why I am frutrated with the Town Council investing in an old building rather than promoting the town now that they own the Dartmouth Visitor Center. So far business people and Councillors have been trying to justify the footfall drop we are seeing rather than saying this is an issue! we need to respond. There are some people who interpret my comments as running Dartmouth down, that is also completely wrong. It is my passion for Dartmouth and its potential as a quality destination that motivates me to keep up the debate.

      As I have said before Dartmouth deserves better.

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