Footfall in Aberdeen city centre increases.

Lucy JohnstonNews

Latest statistics and Christmas shopping figures welcomed by North East Bus Alliance

Footfall in Aberdeen city centre has risen by just over 12% compared to 2022, with more than 19.7million visits to the city in 2023, and almost 1.9million Christmas shoppers flocking to town over the festive season.

The latest statistics by Springboard, which monitors footfall in key parts of the city centre, show the total number of visitors from November 26 to December 30, 2023) was 1,873,928 – up from 1,507,056 the month before.

Saturday, December 16 ranked as the busiest day, with 91,954 visitors to the city centre’s shops and Christmas Village.

The busiest day in the previous month was Saturday, November 25 – the weekend of Black Friday deals and discounts – when 81,107 visitors were recorded in the centre of Aberdeen.

Chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, Adrian Watson, said: “It is more than welcome news that almost 1.9 million people chose to visit Aberdeen city centre over the festive period – a 12% increase on the year before. It’s a fantastic boost for our shops, businesses, restaurants, bars and other attractions, not least the Christmas Village. This demonstrates beyond doubt Aberdeen city centre is very much open for business – a message that cannot be repeated often enough or loudly enough – whether people travel there by car, bus or train.”

A total of 66,254 visitors were recorded on Saturday, October 14, marking the start of the school holidays and the busiest day the month before. And figures for September show an even higher number of visitors to the city centre, with footfall of 2,062,489 recorded from August 27 to September 30.

The figures have also been welcomed by the North East Bus Alliance, which is running a campaign to communicate the changes as a result of the experimental bus priority measures and help people to navigate their way around the city centre.

Robert Andrew, chair of the North East Bus Alliance, said: “It’s encouraging that the latest figures show that nearly 1.9million people, including many Christmas shoppers, visited the city centre in the last week of November and throughout December, up from 1.5million in October into November. These figures go some way to dispelling the myths that the bus gates have had a detrimental impact on people going into the city centre.

“While the high street as a whole is still continuing to recover from the pandemic, which is demonstrated by the comparative figures from 2019, footfall has been steadily increasing since getting back to normal and, indeed, has continued on a more positive trajectory over the past few months.

“It’s also positive to note that generally, footfall in specific areas is also up, including Guild Street and Broad Street.”

The latest footfall figures come in the wake of additional statistics which show the bus priority measures are slashing journey times by 25%, as well as reducing pollution and congestion in the city centre, leading to improved air quality and, as a result, a more attractive and pleasant destination.

With one double decker bus taking up to 75 cars off the road, city centre improvements are encouraging more people to take the bus, and more often, to tackle climate change.

Mr Andrew said action was needed if Aberdeen was to address the unsustainable growth in traffic, with sustainable, reliable and affordable transport being the key to unlocking the city centre’s potential.

“The bus priority measures are an essential part of the bigger picture in terms of public transport. Making it easier for people and goods to get around and reducing traffic congestion and pollution leads to a more pleasant and welcoming place for everyone,” he said.

The bus gates are the first steps towards quicker, greener, cheaper and safer transport in and around the city. They also pave the way for broader, longer-term transport solutions, including Aberdeen Rapid Transit, that will help in the fight against climate change and support the ambition for an attractive and vibrant city through the city centre masterplan. 

On both First Bus and Stagecoach services, more than 600,000 bus passengers every month are seeing journey times reduced, as well as an improvement in punctuality and reliability. 

The North East Bus Alliance was established in 2018 and is a voluntary Quality Partnership Agreement between regional transport partnership Nestrans, Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeenshire Council, First Aberdeen, Stagecoach Bluebird and Bains Coaches. 

The campaign information can be found here.