MANSFIELD has received a boost amid the economic gloom this week with news that more visitors and businesses have been attracted to the town centre.
Nine new shops, including two toy stores, a cafe and a jewellers, are opening their doors to shoppers.
And new retail figures show the number of people visiting the town increased this September compared to the previous year.
Shopping magazine Retail Gazette reported that footfall increased by 13.4 per cent in Mansfield, a rise which was mirrored in towns like Rotherham and Grimsby.
Mansfield District Council bosses say the figure was slightly distorted by the military parade at the beginning of last month, but still reported a rise of between eight and nine per cent.
Town centre manager Nick Turner said the development reflected the hard work of the Town Centre Partnership and the Mansfield BID (Business Improvement District).
“The council is constantly working to improve the variety of attractions and activities on offer in the town centre,” he said.
“This summer we ran a varied programme of free events for children and families including craft workshops and musical performances with the aim of adding something special to the Mansfield shopping experience.”
The new businesses are: Toymaster and Who’s Toys, on West Gate; Expressions and Revolve, in the Four Seasons Shopping Centre; Xibit Jewellery, on Market Street; Clockhouse Café and Chippy, on Walkden Street; Brightwater Lettings, on Stockwell Gate and Cosy Group, incorporating Cosy Sales and CosyLets, on Albert Street.
Xibit Jewellery has been open for six weeks and business partners Beverly Draycott and Leon Smith said yesterday they were pleased with the response from the public.
“Although it is a difficult time to open a new business there are opportunities because of that in terms of the help you get,” Beverly said.
“We have known the town for 25 years and it was natural for us to continue here, and a lot of things have improved,” Leon added.
“The BID campaign is having a positive effect and the new bus station and other regeneration projects help.
“Opening a new business is all about knowing the trade and just going for it. We think we offer something modern, forward looking and different.”
With a Dalek from Doctor Who looking out the window at his new shop on West Gate, John Hadlow also knows the importance of catching the eye.
The owner of Who’s Toys said: “The response has been phenomenal. We’ve had people coming in from Nottingham and Derby because it is different.”
Sarah Newton, Mansfield BID manager, said: “It is fantastic news that despite the economic climate Mansfield continues to attract local residents into the town centre to shop.
“It is not only the fact that Mansfield has a variety of stores and brands to offer shoppers but also that throughout the summer events have been taking place to attract families and visitors in.
“The ‘I Love Mansfield’ event for example held in August increased footfall by 31.6 per cent compared to the previous year and encouraged many local visitors.
“The BID team will be continuing to work on such schemes and events to keep these positive successes up and ensure local residents continue to know what their local town can offer them.”
The Retail Gazette claimed figures in towns across the country reflected a desire to shop locally at the expense of regional cities, which saw a drop in footfall during September.