Numbers of shoppers on The Moor have shot up by almost a third in the latest indication of the revival of the area.
They are flocking to the new markets and shops on the revamped precinct - and existing businesses are also feeling the benefit.
Sales at independent department store Atkinsons are up by about 10%, and managing director Nicholas Atkinson predicted the pulling power of The Moor will continue to grow. “I think we are going to see the strength of the area back to the good old days.”
All the signs are that The Moor will re-establish itself as a prime shopping destination - at the expense of Castlegate from where the markets have relocated.
The November opening of The Moor markets saw numbers of people on the precinct rise by 30% compared with the same month last year, up from a monthly average of 22% since improvements were made to the area and new shops moved in, including TJ Hughes. The increase, though, is from a low base.
Mr Atkinson said: “We have seen a huge difference, which goes counter to what is going on in the country where it has been a very poor Christmas.”
The multi-storey car park next to his own store has been full every day. “At £1 an hour they see the value and they can look at the markets as well.”
Many of the visitors are people who have not been to The Moor for many years, and they are coming back.
And Mr Atkinson said the arrival of Primark as part of the proposed complex next to Debenhams would encourage other retailers to come to The Moor.
Ranald Phillips, of commercial agents Ashcroft, who this week confirmed a deal for a nine-screen cinema, said: “We have got a lot more to do, but people are starting to recognise that The Moor is a much more significant destination. We are confident that the elements will add another 1m a year to its population.”