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29 July 2020
Since the reopening of non-essential businesses on 15 June, followed by the hospitality sector on 4 July, footfall in Swindon Town Centre has steadily been increasing. Latest figures show a 5 per cent increase week-on-week for week commencing 20 July. Although figures are down on previous years, it is a sign that consumer confidence is slowly returning as inSwindon BID continues to raise the awareness of businesses reopening through their #ShineOnSwindon campaign.
The campaign launched on 23 June and welcomes businesses back into the town centre with a window decal star filled with colour as a symbol of support. Images of the stars and businesses have been cascaded across social media to raise awareness of all those who have reopened for business and will continue to do so in the coming weeks and months.
Mark Rogers, inSwindon BID Manager comments on the success of the #ShineOnSwindon campaign to date: “We’ve had some really positive feedback from our town centre businesses who appreciate the gesture and support. Our Street Ambassadors have been making daily visits and our social channels are flooded with pictures of businesses reopening, it’s been fantastic exposure for them all.”
This is just one of the ways inSwindon BID has been supporting town centre businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the lockdown period, they increased their BID Member communication from monthly to weekly to ensure businesses had the latest Government and local advice with access to relevant guidelines. A working party has been set up between key stakeholders including The Brunel Shopping Centre, The Parade Shopping Centre, Regent Circus, Swindon Borough Council and Wiltshire Police. This working party has ensured all communication channels remain open to ensure visitors safety as the town centre comes out of lockdown and business reopen in a safe manner.
The Street Ambassadors have returned to regular, physical patrols in the town centre. As part of an ambassadorial role, they support the town's businesses and visitors, providing guidance and advice.
Kev Saunders, inSwindon BID Street Ambassador Supervisor talks about the return to the town centre: “During lockdown the team continued to work remotely, supporting essential businesses that remained open by managing the radio network. Since returning to our patrols, it has been so nice to be back visiting the businesses, from a safe social distance of course, and welcoming them back. There is a fantastic community feel in the town and everyone wants to support one another and protect our visitors. There have been some businesses who have raised concerns about reopening and reduced footfall in the town, but we’re working with them on various social campaigns and of course including them in our #ShineOnSwindon campaign.”
In regards to the public realm, clear signage and floor markings have been put in place to remind people to socially distance themselves from people not in their household. The inSwindon BID Caretaker continues to support the work by Swindon Borough Council to ensure shared spaces, such as benches and bins are cleaned regularly.
Mark concludes: “There has been a lot of hard work that has happened behind the scenes from all stakeholders in the town centre to ensure a safe reopening and I would like to thank them all for making this possible. I look forward to seeing the footfall steadily rise as consumer confidence continues to increase and people support our local economy.”