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Comment: ‘Ripple effect’ Town Centres advised not to write off the Olympic opportunity

Retail insights specialist Springboard has challenged town centres across the country to maximse the potential of the 2012 Olympics. By Diane Wehrle


Comment: ‘Ripple effect’ Town Centres advised not to write off the Olympic opportunity

Retail insights specialist Springboard has challenged town centres across the country to maximse the potential of the 2012 Olympics. By Diane Wehrle

With many town centre managers around the UK sceptical about the value of the Olympics to their towns, Springboard is issuing an Olympic checklist to towns and cities to help them identify the retail opportunity and cash in on increased footfall. 

We predict there are four potential Olympic winners this summer – those towns hosting an official event and their surrounding (satellite) areas; established tourist destinations; staycation hotspots, and towns with a strong community spirit. 

Springboard, which works with the Association of Town Centre Management, is urging town centres to take advantage of the influx in footfall by planning events, encouraging development and welcoming temporary businesses such as pop-up shops during the summer of 2012. Towns and cities that embrace the event by throwing parties, celebrations and screenings will see a reflection in footfall – Springboard’s figures showed a +7.9% national footfall increase over the weekend of the Royal Wedding last year, and Oldham saw a +36.2% rise in footfall during the Royal Wedding last year when the town threw a traditional British street party.

Diane Wehrle, Research Director at Springboard, explains, “Both international and domestic visitors will be looking to make the most of Olympic events and will be seeking hotels, restaurants and other attractions in the nearby area. While these host cities will certainly see an immediate rise in footfall, we believe there will also be a significant ripple effect.  For towns such as Poole, near Weymouth, which has seen a -12.2% dip in footfall over the past year, this will be a crucial boost.  Greater London centres located in the ‘doughnut ring’ around London – which have seen footfall decline by an average of -6.1% in 2010 and a further drop of -2.4% in 2011 – are also set to reap the big benefits as visitors look to stay in affordable areas with good transport links such as Kingston, Chingford and Uxbridge.”

The following guidelines have been sent out to our 85 town centre partners to encourage them to make the most of the opportunity presented by the 2012 Games:  

Springboard’s Olympic checklist:
*Are you and Olympic site or within 20 miles of an Olympic site and therefore likely to feel the ‘ripple effect’ – knock on increase in vistors staying locally?
*Are you already a tourist destination?
*Are you likely to see increased visitors from UK staycationers before and during the Olympics? 
*Are you in a town that embraces community spirit and gets behind public events?  
*Can you create your own theatre?

If so, are you maximising the potential footfall increase throughout the Olympic period by considering:
*Limited special offers and promotions
*Town centre events to drive footfall e.g. live screenings of the Games, street parties
*Lobbying local authorities for reduced parking charges
*Shop local loyalty cards
*Offering short lease contracts on retail space to encourage pop-ups and minimise vacancy rates
*Traffic-free events


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