Scottish Borders town centre shopper recovery continues

Image source, Other
Image caption, Duns, Hawick, Peebles and Selkirk all saw their footfall rise in the study

A town centre footfall study across eight main Borders towns has recorded its highest figures since 2012.

Duns, Hawick, Peebles and Selkirk saw numbers rise with a regionwide increase of 1% last year compared with 2015.

There was a drop in footfall recorded in Galashiels, Jedburgh, Kelso and Melrose.

Eyemouth - which has only been included in the figures for the past five years - also saw its figures decline compared with last year.

Stuart Bell, executive member for economic development on Scottish Borders Council, said the results painted a "very mixed picture".

However, he said it was good to see a "substantial increase" in Hawick where the council was working with a range of partners on an action plan to boost the town's economic fortunes.

"The co-operation of local community groups and businesses is a key element of that work, and particularly so in areas around tourism and positive promotion of the town, which would hopefully drive even more people to visit," he said.

"The recently-established town centre resilience index uses a range of statistics, including footfall and retail vacancies, to help us target council resources for maximum impact in the towns in greatest need.

"These latest figures confirm that we must extend our efforts in Jedburgh and Eyemouth to help their economies."

Ron Smith, executive member for planning and environment, said the results, when read with other indicators showed "consolidation" which he said was positive in itself in "tough economic times".

"However, there are certainly indications that some of our town centres are struggling, particularly Jedburgh with a further fall in footfall and an increase in vacant shops, and we are already investigating steps to address such issues," he said.

"The council alone cannot revive our high streets and our partners, community groups, businesses themselves and the public have a role to play in ensuring that bustling Borders towns are not a thing of the past.

"On a personal note, I must welcome the improvement in the figures for Hawick, which brings with it an optimism that a corner may be turning."

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