Doncaster business owners are calling for more to be done to attract traders and shoppers to the town centre after it was revealed footfall and occupancy rates have slumped.
New figures released by Doncaster Council show that the number of people using the town centre in the last financial quarter is significantly under target – with 11,912 visiting instead of the 17,000 forecast by the local authority.
In addition, the level of occupancy of tenanted units at Doncaster market is 11 per cent lower than hoped at 74 per cent.
Retail units in the town’s shops have also fared badly with 83.8 per cent, falling below the target of 89 per cent set by Doncaster council.
Market trader Daniel Wilkinson, of Wilkinson’s Butchers whose family has held a stall at the market for 61 years, says he thinks Doncaster Council should invest in promoting the market more.
He said: “There’s a definite lack of advertising.
“We’ve got one of the best markets in the country that’s winning national awards, with unique local producers and artisan bakers, but you’d never know it.
“They should have signs up and bunting to say we won Britain’s Best Food Market.
“We’ve seen trade pick up since the beginning of the year, and you do get a sense that more people are coming back to the market.
“But it’s all right for us, we’re well-established here and have some very loyal customers.
“They should offer incentives to new customers wanting to set up stall and maybe offer lower rents.”
Dave Wilkinson, assistant director of trading services and assets, said: “We are extremely passionate about driving forward the further growth of Doncaster town centre, which like many other places in the UK has had some vacant building units since the economic crisis.”
“We have developed a Town Centre Action Plan with our key partners, including local retailers, national chains and the Frenchgate and Waterdale shopping centres, in order to plan for this continuing regeneration.
“Our key priority is to continue the development of the town centre into a prosperous, safe and enjoyable place for visitors and residents alike.
“We aim to bring further investment into Doncaster by continuing with the development of Doncaster Market, voted Britain’s Best Food Market, as well as inviting visitors to the borough with an excellent array of events including Armed Forces Day, the European Jet Ski Championships in July and, of course, the St Leger Festival in September.”