NEWPORT city centre has been busier this year than it was in 2019 – the last year before Covid shattered shopping habits and caused myriad closures on high streets across the world.

That is according to specialists at Springboard, who counted the number of visitors from January to October 2023 compared to the same time period in 2019.

Newport Now Business Improvement District (BID) say the figures show the city is “bucking trends” of high street decline across Wales and the UK, where footfall is down by almost 13 per cent and almost 14 per cent respectively.

But in Newport, footfall was 5.3 per cent higher than it was in the first ten months of 2019.

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The Countdown to Christmas event on Saturday, November 18, attracted 8,900 additional visitors compared to an average Saturday, the BID has said.

The event, which the BID organises and delivers in partnership with Newport City Council, Friars Walk and Newport City Radio, saw a 60 per cent increase in footfall compared to the previous Saturday, November 11.

The figures are "really encouraging" for city centre businesses, says BID manager Kevin Ward, which need to find ways to capitalise on major events.

“When we consulted on our current business plan back in 2019, events and other ways of welcoming people into Newport were high on the wish list of many traders," he said.

“The BID is funded by the business of the city centre and it’s important we spend their money in ways that benefit them the most.

“Events are really important for making Newport city centre a destination venue, and the footfall they attract provides a brilliant foundation for businesses to thrive.”

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Mr Ward also praised the impact of the redeveloped Newport Market, refurbished Newport Arcade and four-star Mercure Hotel on Upper Dock St.

“We don’t pretend that everyone who comes into the city centre for an event leaves with full shopping bags – but there is no reason why they shouldn’t," he said.

“The challenge for traders is to tap into events footfall and to ensure they benefit as much as possible from the increase in visitors. This might mean opening at different hours on event days or providing special offers to event visitors.

“It is also important that we get the message out about Newport’s increased footfall, compared to the pre-Covid period, to counter some of the often ill-informed negativity on social media.”