Rain puts off the fair weather shoppers

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BAD weather in May meant only hardy shoppers ventured into Hemel Hempstead’s town centre – but they went on a spending spree.

A members’ meeting of Hemel Hempstead Town Centre Partnership was told the number of people visiting the trading area dipped by a whopping 7.9 per cent but they spent 1.6 per cent more than in May 2011.

“We had three weeks’ of heavy rain,” said chairman Vince Williams, centre director of The Marlowes Shopping Centre.

“It had a huge impact on the external parts of the town centre.”

Car park use also fell as petrol prices remained stubbornly high.

But the amount of money spent in the shops, restaurants and cafes actually went up in the same month, beating the national trend of a 1.3 per cent increase in sales.

Mr Williams added: “We had fewer people venture out but an uplift in sales in all trading categories, except lifestyles and services.

“I think that shows people are happy to spend money but only on the things that they need.”

Spending in cafes and restaurants also went up but fashion spending, a major part of the town centre, continued its 2012 struggle.

The breakfast meeting at the Salvation Army hall in Waterhouse Street was also told that the lead up to the four day Jubilee weekend also saw an increase in spending.

The partnership now has a website live at www.hhtcp.co.uk

A second bid for funding to regenerate the town centre is due to be submitted by the partnership to the Portas Pilots project headed up by retail guru Mary Portas.