Shopping for ideas to boost town trade

Latest business news from the Suffolk Free Press,, @sfpsudbury on Twitter
Latest business news from the Suffolk Free Press,, @sfpsudbury on Twitter

A survey of every business and retailer in Sudbury is taking place at the end of the month to find ways to boost the local economy.

It is being carried by the Town Team management group – an independent body representing town businesses and the town council – and is being run in conjunction with Babergh District Council.

The objective is to find out what ideas shopkeepers and business owners would like to see in place to help them increase the number of people shopping in the town, and finding a way to turn their ideas into reality through funding and grants.

Some ideas already in the boiling pot include training courses on how to use social media, as well as providing a click and collect service for customers – whereby goods are ordered online but collected in store.

Newly-apppointed town centre manager Jane Hatton said she was confident that, given the chance to express their views, the town’s businesses and retailers would come up with some good suggestions in the survey, which will include every single shop and business in the town.

“We are here to help, but we need to hear their views rather than relying on comments and anecdotal evidence from a few people in the town centre, “she said.

“We are asking businesses for their suggestions on what will help them in the future – it may be things we haven’t even thought about before.

“How many are using social media for their business? This could be an area we could access training for them. We really want their feedback.

“It’s a whole-town survey, and it will give us a really good picture of what businesses think and what they need.”

Mrs Hatton said she had received good feedback from retailers about how their fared at Christmas.

“I did all my Christmas shopping in Sudbury, apart from a couple of items I had to buy online, and everyone I spoke to said they thought the town did ok,” she said.

Chris Storey, chairman of Sudbury Chamber of Commerce, said: “Sudbury had a lot of people coming into town to shop over Christmas and the new year, and the shops seemed to be doing alright.

“I haven’t heard there were any issues. Like most shops, there were some winners and some losers.”

He said the aim of the survey was to encourage retailers and businesses to work together for the mutual benefit of the town.

“It’s really a question of getting the retailers to work together to benefit Sudbury,” he said. “We do want to encourage growth in the retail sector.”

He said the objective was to ensure the town could compete with places like Bury St Edmunds, Colchester, Ipswich and Norwich.

He added: “We have plenty of cafes and places to eat, and plenty of opportunities to increase the number of visitors coming to Sudbury.”

Mrs Hatton, pictured, confirmed Sudbury’s second Taste of Sudbury festival was going ahead in the summer.