THREE footfall counters, which revealed more than 1.6million visitors flocked to Salisbury over the Christmas period, are the same machines that helped secure “millions of pounds of recovery money” following the 2018 Novichok attacks.

The Salisbury Business Improvement District (BID), which funds the collection of footfall data, has revealed there are three permanent footfall counters in the city, which have been responsible for collecting footfall data since 2014.

Located on Queen Street, High Street and Fisherton Street, the counters have enabled the BID to compare visiting figures and detect any emerging patterns across the past six years, as well as comparing data with the rest of the South West, UK averages and the High Street Index.

Robin McGowan, Salisbury BID’s chief executive, described the counters as a “reliable source”, in particular highlighting the impact that the Novichok poisonings had on Salisbury footfall.

He added: “It was this data that helped secure millions of pounds of recovery money for Salisbury from the government. Footfall data is so important to be able to measure the performance and success of a place. The intelligence is also used to influence future plans and initiatives in the city centre.”

Speaking at the Salisbury City Council meeting Monday night, city council leader Jeremy Nettle said: “There has been a lot of negative reaction on social media about the level of footfall, but I would like to set the record straight.

"This is the same footfall counting method that the BID recorded from after Novichok, so when we can see there is an increase in footfall, let’s not knock it, let’s be proud of what we have achieved.”

As previously reported, December’s footfall was up compared to December 2018, bucking the UK’s High Street trend which was on average down 3.5 per cent.

The BID receives weekly and monthly reports disclosing the city centre’s footfall.

Robin added: “Not only is the data really important for managing the city, but many of our business members value these reports.

"Businesses can use the data to assess their sales performance against the footfall in the city and it helps them make business decisions such as opening hours and staffing levels at different times.”

The footfall counter intelligence is provided by Springboard, and marketing and insights director Diane Wehrle added: “We are proud and delighted to be able to help Salisbury establish how successful it is, and to enable it to continue to track this in such a transformational period for our high streets.”