WITH Hereford’s new shopping blueprint hitting the one-month mark, reactions to the Old Market remain mixed, but many of the city’s existing traders are positive about the early signs.
Across Newmarket Street, the first shops of the new development opened on May 1, joined in the following weeks by restaurants, and a six-screen cinema.
The Old Market was always projected to bring more people in from the surrounding market towns – and offer an alternative to the likes of Worcester and Cardiff.
And the hope from High Town shopkeepers was that the trade would trickle across; more shoppers would mean more business for everyone.
One of the main beneficiaries has been Widemarsh Street – an area where many shops have closed over the past two years – which finds itself as the main thoroughfare between the two ‘centres’.
Andy Jones, who works at Neil Powell Butchers on Widemarsh Street, said he has noticed the increase in footfall since the Old Market opened.
He said: “It’s been positive for us. The shop’s definitely been busier than usual. We’re well-placed for the extra footfall, but it’s good to see the town busy. It’s about time there was something like this in Hereford.”
The opening weekend saw thousands come to Hereford to shop, and 'events' like a Friday food festival aim to push High Town as the home of independent trading.
However that boost in footfall may not yet be being felt citywide.
Expressions, on Broad Street, has seen similar trade to previous years, while Chrurch Street traders said mixed weather and school holidays have made it difficult to gauge the impact.
Jill Generalovich, who runs health food store Fodder on Church Street said: "I think the next month will be more revealing; it's so soon, and because we have had bank holidays and half term it's difficult to tell whether general footfall is up or down.
"I do think that we have loyal customers – we've been here for a while – and they come to us, specifically, for a reason.”
Charlotte Preedy, who works in the gift shop Expressions, said: “The opening hasn't really affected our footfall.
“But we’re hoping that in the summer it'll attract even more tourists who will venture over to our side too.
“We’re feeling positive about the development and the future.”