“Shop local” is the message to residents as Mansfield District Council launches its love your local markets campaign to encourage people to use the town centre and markets.
The campaign, from tomorrow until the end of the month, will see additions to the regular daily market in the way of a farmer’s market and local business promotions.
It is part of the council’s drive to encourage a sense of pride in the district and to promote it as a good place to live, work, visit and invest in.
During half-term, from May 29 to June 2, young shoppers will be able to enter a Love Local quiz trail with a chance of winning up to £20 in gift vouchers to spend on Mansfield Market.
There will also be free craft activities for children on Saturday, May 26, from 10am-2pm.
Kate Allsop, Mansfield mayor, said: “Mansfield has a lot to be proud of and is a great place to indulge in a bit of retail therapy.
“As well as many of the big name chain stores, it has a range of independent traders – not least, of course, on the market.
“These traders are so valuable because they are what give Mansfield its own unique identity and help set it apart from other towns, so it is important we, as the people who live and work here, support those smaller businesses to help them to thrive and grow.”
The campaign aims to protect the rich heritage of the market, with some traders on the market trading for three generations.
Nikki Rolls, Mansfield Business Improvement District chief executive, said footfall in the town centre was increasing, despite national statistics showing otherwise.
She said: “National trends highlight that footfall is down 3.3 per cent this year compared with last.
“However, our real-live footfall counters show that in Mansfield, we have actually seen a 5.4 per cent increase in visitor numbers.
“This is great news for the town centre, and for Mansfield.
“In addition, the national retail vacancy rate average is 11.1 per cent, but in Mansfield we have a vacancy rate of 10.1 per cent.
“The fact there are plans for major hotels for Mansfield shows people are wanting to come to our town.
“The BID works hard to attract new business, securing interest and engagement with national chains and independents regarding potential sites.
“The BID does a lot of work to promote the town - the loyalty card scheme, websites, and other platforms.
“We also work hard to make the town appealing, and work to address and resolve issues that affect the appearance and visitor enjoyment.
“As an example, the BID is a leading partner with the council, in submitting a £1m Heritage Lottery application to improve the external frontages of a number of units along Leeming Street – preserving our local history and heritage along the way.
“It is worth noting retailers have left, but often as a result of national chains restructuring their business, or through issues such as insolvency.
“However, there is a shift in focus for town centres across the country.
“We have to work hard to promote our town centres as places where people come not just to shop, but also to enjoy being – developing a café culture for example, and promoting the evening and night-time economy are crucial.
“There has to be a happy mix of retail, food and leisure that compliments the heritage and celebrates what we have to offer.”
Rebekah O’Neill, manager of Mansfield town centre’s Four Seasons Shopping Centre, said: “In line with the rest of the UK, our customers’ buying habits have changed over the last five years, yet the centre remains vibrant both in terms of sales and footfall.
“Our footfall in particular is consistently higher than the regional and national benchmarks and many of our retailers report they are the best performing in their regions.
“Leasing enquiries at Four Seasons remain healthy and we look forward to welcoming even more retailers to the centre in the coming months.
“Vacancy rates are well below the national average with many of our bigger brands renewing their leases and so committing to the centre and town for years to come.
“What is a positive sign for us is the continued investment we are seeing from our retailers – over the last 12 months tenants have invested more than £1.3 million in their stores at the centre – which demonstrates their confidence in Four Seasons and Mansfield.”