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Springboard’s vacancy rate survey provides St Austell with the data and insights needed to benchmark their performance.

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The question

St Austell Town Centre BID formed in 2013 after a group of retailers partnered with Cornwall Council and local businesses to combat the issue of decreasing ped counts and increase the popularity for customers and businesses in the town.

The main challenges that the BID faced were Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) and safety, and the threat of an out of town shopping centre, which contributed to an increase in vacant units and “challenges” attracting big-named retailers.

Since 2013, St Austell Town Centre BID has focused heavily on visitor safety through increased police visibility and a collaboration with the town council on their ‘Safer Cornwall’ project. Improvements in safety positively impacted all aspects of the town, with increases in footfall and location desirability.

Although one of the smallest BID’s in the country (financially) they have enabled funds for the town to start projects and run events, enhancing St Austell as a place to visit and therefore creating an appealing place for business to move to. The BID also work with a range of community groups bringing more events into St Austell; this help showcase the town to people who may have not visited in a while. Alongside this they now have an amazing display of Christmas lights and ensure the town looks it’s best with a variety of flower displays, of which they have been awarded SWIB gold for.

These factors all have an impact on the town’s vacancy rate figures and St Austell’s BID are continuously refining their approach to their vacant units. As a result, not only has the town improved their vacancy rate from 12.5% in April 2017 to 5.5% in July 2019 but they have also out-performed the National vacancy rate trend, which has been in decline since April 2017.

Vacancy rate data from Springboard enables the BID to benchmark their town against others regionally as well as nationally. Meaning that each quarter St Austell Town Centre BID understand the scale of their performance. The vacancy rate survey also collects data on independent units and interestingly over half of the let units in St Austell are to independent retailers (54.5%). Mixed-use independent retailers have been a unique selling point, and really beneficial to the town.

The BID has found their vacancy rate data from Springboard vital when speaking to their board and potential new investors. They present the stats as a confidence score for their retailers and overall town centre performance. It is also used to encourage engagement across social media channels and creates positive news for the town.

If you would like to take part in our free quarterly vacancy rate survey, please email reports@spring-board.info so we can add you onto our distribution list. We send out emails in January, April, July & October containing the link to our survey. By taking part you receive a free vacancy rate report which contains the UK national and regional vacancy rate benchmarks along with the vacancy rate for other towns in your area.

You can take part in our October vacancy survey here.

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