Fifty per cent-plus footfall drop in Mansfield town centre leads to massive losses to council revenues

Footfall dropped in Mansfield town centre by more than 50 per cent over the first three months of this year, new figures have revealed.

Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 2:47 pm

Due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, forced shop closures for non-essential retailers and the ‘stay at home’ rule, 279,457 fewer people entered the town centre in January – a drop of 61.6 per cent on January 2020.

In February, footfall fell by 62.8 per cent on the previous year with 271,732 fewer residents coming into town – while in March, figures show that the drop was down to 36.1 per cent, with 122,972 fewer people entering the town compared to March 2020.

The figures, released as part of a report to Mansfield District Council’s overview and scrutiny committee, show that the authority also suffered huge financial losses as an impact of the decrease.

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There was a 50 per cent-plus footfall drop in Mansfield town centre during the third lockdown.

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Due to the forced closure of many stalls, revenue from Mansfield market dropped to £3,071 between January and March this year – compared with the £25,115 the authority took in rent during the same period in 2020, a drop of 88 per cent, the report shows.

Overall, the third lockdown led to a yearly drop in market revenue of 73 per cent – down to £39,196 during the financial year 2020-2021, compared to £144,068 during 2019-2020.

The report states: “On April 12, 2021, all non-essential retail re-opened, therefore the layout has reverted to the December plan and the fencing from around the stalls has been removed.

“The staff also continue to sanitise the stalls each evening and alternative waste disposal continues to be in operation to reduce the risk to staff from handling it.

“Once the trader occupies the stall each day they are then responsible for the sanitisation of the stall and ensuring they manage their queues and customer safety.”

Car parking income also dropped significantly over the January to March period in council-run facilities – down 78 per cent to £71,826 from £324,551 over the same three months in 2020.

This is despite car parking fees being reintroduced at all council-run facilities on the first of January, 2021, the report states.

"The car park income for the fourth quarter is £71,826 due to the impact of the third lockdown, even though normal fees and charges were re-introduced,” it states.

The year-on-year drop in carpark revenue was down 84 per cent - from £1,536,564 in 2019-20 to £240,986 in 2019-20, the report states.

The town’s Shopmobility scheme was forced to close during the first lockdown but commenced operations in June and has continued to operate through the second and third.

However, revenue was still down by 85 per cent – from £3,915 in 2019-20 to £584 in 2020-21.

And the council’s decision to waive charges for public toilets, due to many other outlets being closed, cost the authority a further £33,377. Charges have now been reintroduced.

The report states: “The charges for using public conveniences were waived at the start of the Covid pandemic to ensure that people had access to facilities whilst lots of businesses were closed and to encourage hand washing to reduce the risk of transmission.”

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