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‘Our retail businesses rely on foot traffic to stay on the radar and it’s our café and restaurant scene that is the new driver of this’





There is an undeniable transformation sweeping through high streets across the nation. Rather than perceiving it as a decline, I prefer to characterise it as an evolution, writes Bishop’s Stortford BID chairman Karen Burton.

High streets are increasingly becoming social hubs, offering personal services and serving as gathering places rather than mere shopping destinations. The December sales figures for the UK echo this shift, revealing a decline in retail spending on high streets in favour of increased food and drink sales.

So it’s no surprise that Bishop’s Stortford town centre boasts a thriving array of cafés and restaurants.

Saying that, the fact is we still have a fantastic retail offering in Bishop’s Stortford for those who want the face-to-face shopping experience. Our town centre offers a diverse mix of national brands and independents, catering to all budgets, tastes and age groups, with newcomers arriving all the time.

Despite social media gripes about how our high street compares to neighbouring towns, it’s worth considering that sometimes the grass on the other side of the fence is just different, not necessarily greener. Exploring new places is great, but let’s not lose sight of the gems right here on our doorstep.

On Valentine’s Day (Wednesday February 14) we invited the public to share their love on our social media channels and the response was truly heart-warming. So many businesses of all types received mentions, but the overall sentiment was the same – they are quietly appreciated by so many.

Ruby Room has recently signed up to the Discover Stortford Gift Card scheme
Ruby Room has recently signed up to the Discover Stortford Gift Card scheme

Comments received included “the best independent store”, “nothing is ever too much trouble for them” and “always so friendly and knowledgeable”.

The BID has, in turn, received messages from our businesses stating how nice it was that they had a mention. It was like getting a little hug from the town!

Members of the public who commented were entered into a prize draw and 20 lucky winners received Valentine’s-themed gifts from shops across the Bishop’s Stortford BID area.

Our retail businesses rely on foot traffic to stay on the radar and it’s our café and restaurant scene that is the new driver of this. The days of grabbing a quick lunch on a day out in order to maximise shopping time are a thing of the past. Today, enjoying a meal or savouring a drink is often the focal point of a trip into town.

As March approaches, remember we have World Book Day on Thursday March 7. Don’t let dressing up become a stress. Party Box in The Dells can help with fun, affordable accessories and costumes.

You can redeem your child’s £1 book token at Waterstones, WHSmith, The Works or Sainsbury’s. Or for rare finds and old favourites, pay St Clare Hospice and Oxfam bookshops a visit.

Stuck for gift ideas for Mother’s Day on Sunday March 10? How about a Discover Stortford Gift Card? It can be spent at over 40 businesses across the town. You can pick one up from the Tourist Information Centre in Market Square.

For the latest BID information, visit www.discoverstortford.co.uk or follow us on Instagram/Facebook @DiscoverStortford and X @StortfordBID. Any questions? Email info@bishopsstortfordbid.co.uk.

*Bishop’s Stortford BID (Business Improvement District) is the business-led and business-funded body that works to improve the town centre.



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