THERE were 17 per cent more visits in Newport city centre during June than the year before, according to new figures from the city council.

New footfall figures show that there were 815,559 visits during the last calendar month, compared with 698,210 for the same period in 2013.

Council leader Bob Bright said he believed it was a sign of increasing confidence in the shopping centre.

Newport council said that the average weekly number was 163,112, a jump of 24,470 compared with the previous year.

The council said more people visited the city centre in January, April and May 2014, compared with the previous year, although a slight decrease was recorded in February and March.

It comes against a background of steady decline since 2009.

Councillor Bob Bright, Labour leader of Newport City Council, said: “While we need to be cautiously optimistic about the figures, I do believe it is another sign of increasing confidence in our traditional shopping centre.

“As well as the Friars Walk retail and leisure scheme which is due to open in 2015, we have organisations such as Admiral and the Seren Group moving their employees to the city centre and exciting plans for more residential use of landmark buildings. Together these will contribute to a more attractive city centre.

“We still have some first rate retailers and services in the city centre, including excellent independent traders, but they must be used if we do not want to lose them. I would urge everyone to give their support to our city centre businesses – shop local to help Newport prosper and grow.”

The figures come as work continues on the Frairs Walk scheme, with steelwork forming the anchor Debenhams department store erected at the front of the development.

The development – backed by a £90m loan from Newport City Council – will create 650 jobs during construction phase, and about 1,100 jobs once complete.