Paisley enjoyed a bumper shopping bonanza in the run up to Christmas thanks to town’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021 and the WinterFest event.
Local businesses and town centre traders reported soaring sales and a massive spike in festive footfall.
Paisley’s increased profile due to the UK City of Culture 2021 bid and a series of events including the Christmas Lights switch on and town’s first’s WinterFest , run by Paisley First, were credited with enticing more people into the heart of the town.
The festival ran from November 24th for four weeks and included a Nutcracker Trail during the first two weeks of December
Peter Clark, Manager of the Paisley Centre said traders enjoyed a lucrative Christmas with customer footfall up by more than a third on last year’s figures.
He said: “For the same period last year we had approximately 65,000 customer visits per week but this year’s figures are showing more than 100,000, which is incredible and a huge increase.
“We have been very busy and at weekends every seat in our food court was taken. More people are shopping locally.
“Paisley’s bid for City of Culture really heightened the town’s profile and I think local people also rediscovered their town centre.
“WinterFest has also brought a lot of people in. We had a message on our Facebook page from a visitor who had come here for that but said they didn’t realise they could also do all their Christmas shopping here and stayed.”
He said he expected the increased sales to continue into the New Year, with six new outlets poised to open within the Centre, which has 34 units trading not including the Paisley Market and a food court.
Peter Clark added: “There’s a great buzz about Paisley and it’s a changed place even since last year.”
Paisley First’s Chairman Ian Henderson said: “There has been a real buzz about Paisley this year and this is in no small part due to some of the great events happening in the town centre as part of the Paisley campaign for the UK City of Culture 2021.
“It’s important that we continue to showcase all that Paisley has to offer, and the Paisley First WinterFest has been a great example of that.
“Many retailers are reporting a significant increase in footfall and sales volumes, and it’s been great to see the town centre busy in the run up to Christmas, especially with families at weekends.”
Cheryl Wilson, owner of Home and gift store Eigen, said the store had been busier this year.
She said: “We’ve had more customers in and Paisley seems to be busier than usual. I can see a huge difference from when I came on board 18 months ago and I think more people are trying to shop locally.
“It won’t happen overnight but it’s certainly going in the right direction.”
Joe Bisland, co-owner of the White Cart Company, said: “We’ve been busy and the Nutcracker Trail brought lots of family in and we had people visiting the store who wouldn’t normally.
“We’ve had a lot of ladies buying for their friends and we do a range of traditional Christmas toys which sold well.
“As Christmas approached we got increasingly busier and we got a last minute rush when the panic set in the weekend before.”
Gavin Wilson, the owner of record store Feel the Groove, which opened its doors in November 2016, said that overall there has been a general good feeling throughout the town both for business owners and retailers and customers.
He added: “Our sales have been strong and we’ve seen people out with the area and even the UK come into the shop.
“The Christmas product that we sell looks like it’s up on last year in terms of new releases and new albums and present buying. The whole bid has brought a stronger awareness to the people of Paisley and surrounding areas of the town centre.”
Iain Nicolson, Leader of Renfrewshire Council, said: “Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture created a lot of momentum and we aim to build on that.
“We are investing £45.7 million in the town centre, with £10m of that set aside for transport and public realm improvements to support its long-term regeneration.
“This means it will be even easier for people to get here, as well as making it a more attractive place to spend time.
“We are working towards turning our High Street into a cultural hub which will breathe new life into the town centre and bring in footfall to ensure that local traders will thrive.”
Bob Grant, Chief Executive of Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “The UK City of Culture bid put Paisley at the forefront of people’s minds and helped to reposition it on the local and UK stage as a good place to live, work and invest.
“The competition may be over, but work continues to create a new visitor economy based around Paisley’s unique heritage assets, creating jobs and footfall for local traders.”