SOME businesses are sceptical about new figures that show footfall in Hereford in September was up almost a third on the same month last year.

The figures from Hereford Business Improvement District (BID) show 89,000 more people passed through the city last month compared with September in the previous two years.

Despite the increase, businesses are taking the figures with a pinch of salt as they say they haven’t seen a dramatic rise in their sales.

“There have been people around, but I’m surprised at the figures,” said Derek Elsmere, of Off The Wall gift shop, St Peter’s Street.

“Less people are spending, but the people who are, are spending more.

“We had a good August, but September was about the same as last September. It certainly hasn’t been any busier.

“BID is a good thing, hopefully it will be renewed, but I disagree with the figures. Footfall is down as far as we’re concerned.”

Hereford BID is currently seeking backing for a second term. During its first five years, free wifi was installed in the city centre. It is part of the system used to measure footfall.

Twelve access points can see any device with its wifi signal switched on, but the same device won’t be counted twice and the system is anonymous.

Syanna Farr, marketing executive at Hereford BID, said the organisation is seeing a trend towards both locals and visitors choosing to shop in the city.

Often dubbed Hereford’s independent quarter, Church Street is home to wholefoods shop Fodder, which has been trading for more than 40 years.

Even though the business has seen an increase in sales after opening a new store in the Butter Market, trading in Church Street can be difficult.

“Footfall is really difficult to predict,” said manager Mark Hubbard.

“There are days where you have massive football and other days it falls off a cliff edge for no reason, you can’t put your finger on it.

“It’s really difficult to pinpoint. The trouble with Church Street is you need to know it’s here.”

Stephen Moruzzi, the manager of Thurabread Bakery in Maylord Street,  said visitors to the retail market on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays help the business.

Herefordshire Council said the footfall figures are “pleasing” and the markets remain an important part of the local economy, encouraging independent retailing, local employment and business start-ups.