Survey of Bournemouth shoppers reveals mixed feelings about town centre

Survey of Bournemouth shoppers reveals mixed feelings about town centre

Bournemouth Echo

Our survey says... Christmas market is "pants" but shops get thumbs upOur survey says... Christmas market is "pants" but shops get thumbs up

BOURNEMOUTH’S pricey parking, Big Issue sellers, dirty streets and Christmas market have sparked criticism from town centre shoppers.

But the resort’s festive atmosphere, temporary ice rink, eateries and department stores won praise from those surveyed by town centre rangers in the run-up to December 25.

The Town Centre BID survey asked 243 adults and 78 children to rank their satisfaction on a scale of one to five. The improved Christmas decorations scored highly with more than half of those surveyed describing them as good or excellent.

Customer service was rated good or excellent by 85 per cent of those quizzed on Saturday, December 15, Thursday, December 20 and Friday, December 21. Eighty per cent found it easy to get around the town centre and 60 per cent gave the shopping choice their seal of approval.

But the town’s cleanliness came under fire with 12 per cent branding the resort dirty and discarded chewing gum was a bone of contention. While more than half of those surveyed rated the Christmas market as good or excellent, 28 per cent branded it poor or very poor.

The bar proved popular with younger visitors but the market stalls attracted criticism, particularly from the over-70s.

More than half of those surveyed thought Bournemouth compared favourably with other shopping centres and the outdoor ice rink in the Lower Gardens, which drew nearly 8,000 skaters in six weeks, was rated as good or excellent by 69 per cent of those questioned.

Almost three quarters of those surveyed lived locally with 15 per cent on day trips and 11 per cent on a holiday or short break. Ninety-six per cent said they would return and 95 per cent said they would recommend Bournemouth as a destination.

Commenting on the survey’s findings, the president of Bournemouth Chamber of Trade and Commerce and chairman of the Town Centre Management Board Nigel Hedges, inset, said: “Generally, the responses were positive. People were very honest; they enjoyed the ambience and the Christmas decorations.

“We don’t know all the answers and are already using these vital findings to help us plan for next Christmas.

“Car parking is not expensive; prices have been held for three years, with £1 being charged for two hours.

“We have more Big Issue pitches in Bournemouth than most other towns and have introduced tabards and a code of conduct for vendors.

“People don’t like to be asked for money in the street but if you have an empathy with the plight of the homeless they serve a good cause.

“There were virtually no charity chuggers in Bournemouth last Christmas.

“Chugging is virtually unregulated but we have given charities guidance so they can regulate themselves.

“Chewing gum is a problem in towns and cities across the country.

“The last clean-up in Bournemouth cost £26,000 and another is underway. You can’t catch people dropping gum and the only answer is for the government to encourage manufacturers to make gum biodegradable.

“We are constantly working to improve the Christmas market.”

Town centre BID manager Gregg Dunnett, inset, was also upbeat about the survey’s findings.

He said: “Bournemouth is a brilliant place but it could be even better and the survey helps confirm issues that need to be looked at.

“There are great partnerships in place which are already working hard behind the scenes to address these.

“The BID’s Christmas campaign was the first step towards making Bournemouth town centre a major Christmas destination and this survey helps to show the potential for improving the Christmas offer in the years to come.”

He added: “People were incredibly passionate about Bournemouth. We spoke to those who visit year after year.

“Bournemouth is about much more than great shopping. It has a fantastic beach and beautiful gardens.

“The Christmas market, shopping, cafes, restaurants and the outdoor ice rink all worked together to create a real buzz which people couldn’t get at soulless out-of-town shopping centres.”

Negative comments

  •  ‘Chewing gum is a problem’
  •  ‘Too many clubs and bars, too many empty shops’
  •  ‘Drunks are a pain’
  • ‘Xmas market is pants’
  •  ‘Big Issue vendors repeatedly asking even when you’ve said no’
  • ‘Won’t come into town at night’
  • ‘Get homeless people off the streets’

But on the plus side...

  • ‘Very good town rangers’
  • 'Love the gardens, pier, outdoor bits’
  • ‘Nicest seaside resort in country’
  • ‘Really enjoyed the live entertainment’
  • ‘Beautiful beaches and gardens’
  • ‘Lots of disabled parking’
  • ‘Not too crowded, wide streets’

The questions they asked

Was it easy to find your way around?

  • Very easy (29 per cent)
  • Easy (55 per cent)
  • Satisfactory (14 per cent)
  • Difficult (two per cent)
  • Very difficult (1 per cent)

 

How was the overall customer service you received?

  • Excellent (15 per cent)
  • Good (70 per cent)
  • Average (14 per cent)
  • Poor (1 per cent)
  • Very poor (0)

What is your impression of the shops and shopping choice in the town?

  • Excellent (7 per cent)
  • Good (53 per cent)
  • Average (30 per cent)
  • Poor (7 per cent)
  • Very poor (3 per cent)

 

What is your impression of the ice rink in the gardens?

  • Excellent (18 per cent)
  • Good (51 per cent)
  • Average (19 per cent)
  • Poor (9 per cent)
  • Very poor (3 per cent)

Was the town clean and tidy?

  • Very clean (10 per cent)
  • Clean (43 per cent)
  • Ok (34 per cent)
  • Dirty (12 per cent)
  • Very dirty (1 per cent)

 

What is your impression of the Christmas lights/decorations in town?

  •  Excellent (14 per cent)
  • Good (40 per cent)
  • Average 30 per cent)
  • Poor (10 per cent)
  • Very poor (6 per cent)

How does Bournemouth compare with other centres you have visited?

  • Much better (9 per cent)
  • Compares well (43 per cent)
  • Similar (33 per cent)
  • Poorly (11 per cent)
  • Very poorly (3 per cent)

 

What is your impression of the Christmas market event in the Square?

  • Excellent (9 per cent)
  • Good (44 per cent)
  • Average (19 per cent)
  • Poor (17 per cent)
  • Very poor (11 per cent)

 

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