H&M arrival leads to Cheltenham shopping boom
GLEEFUL traders in Cheltenham are hailing a shopping boom since the arrival of High Street brand H&M.
Initial figures show footfall in the Regent Arcade has shot up by more than 30 per cent since the chain opened – with more people filtering through the store to visit other shops.
In the first four days of trading, 13,800 people entered the arcade – compared with an average of around 10,000.
High Street traders said H&M's arrival was a shot in the arm for the town centre.
Gents, come in to Earl's & Co and enjoy a haircut and finish, glass of whisky and a shoeshine for £18.50
Terms: Later and earlier appointments available upon request
Contact: 01242 504887
Valid until: Tuesday, December 31 2013
Gorana Amin, a supervisor at Old Guys Rule, a clothing and accessories store aimed at middle-aged men opposite H&M, said sales were up.
"We have definitely noticed the difference," she said. "Over the first few days we have had more people coming into our store.
"Customers have been coming out of their side exit and then having a look in here."
Agata Griese, who works at Fresh Crust cafe, on the corner of the High Street and the Beechwood Shopping Centre, added: "It has had a positive impact on us. We have had more people over the last week because we are only a few doors down from H&M.
"Personally I'm really pleased about it too. Before, I had to go over to Gloucester to shop there and now I don't. My friends are happy too."
The figures were taken from Thursday until the close of business on Sunday.
Centre manager John Forward hailed the footfall data, which was captured on overhead cameras. "Certainly, the initial figures are what we had hoped for," he said.
"They show there has been a considerable rise in the number of people visiting the shopping centre– and particularly many people coming in through H&M's side entrance – which was not there before.
"It's very positive news."
Mr Forward also said the new look of the Regent Arcade's facade was helping to draw in more shoppers.
"It looks fantastic from the outside and that makes a big difference," he added.
"We went to great effort with the plans to make the whole front of the shopping centre fit in well with existing architecture all the way down to Lloyds Bank."
The three-storey H&M store opened last Thursday amid a frenzy of excitement from hundreds of shoppers who queued up outside to get their hands on the best deals. It came after a £20 million redevelopment of the arcade which included the addition of a new River Island store.
Cheltenham town centre manager Martin Quantock said H&M's arrival had created a feel-good factor.
"Everyone I've spoken to who has been to the new H&M has commented on how busy it is," he said.
"There has been so much anticipation ahead of the opening because for a long time it's the one store people wanted that we didn't have.
"Apart from the fact that it's a very popular brand, it is ideally situated – helping to draw people into the Regent Arcade in the same way as Next does for the Beechwood Shopping Centre."