THE future is looking positive for one of South Lakeland’s shopping centres as figures show the number of visitors is rising.

A survey has shown a 3.5 per cent increase in footfall at the Westmorland Shopping Centre, which director Alan Green described as ‘fantastic’.

“It shows there are still lots of people coming in,” he said. “In 2012 we made a purpose of being event-led with our marketing, such as having choirs, birds of prey and other activities in the centre. This adds value to the experience of the visitor and makes them stay.”

Although there are two empty stores in the centre, Mr Green said a conscious effort had been made to ensure this did not create a ‘dull’ feeling, by covering the shop fronts with Lake District scenes.

“We also have purpose-built units so that people can sell stuff on the mall, and we have tried to put activites on as often as possible,” he said.

“Julian Graves moved out but the space was filled quickly, which was positive.

“There is always going to be a natural drop in trade in mid-January, but we aim to to be events-led again to continue to attract people.”

Faye Walker, owner of Faye’s Sewing Box, sited in the centre’s market, said that her trade had continually increased since she bought the business two years ago.

“Christmas was definitely a lot busier than it was last year for me, and last year was busier than the one before that,” she said.

“I think all the events have definitely worked and been really good for business - it’s given a nicer feel to the centre and made it more inviting. The free parking on a Sunday in the run up to Christmas was also beneficial.”

The centre’s Waterstones has also seen loyal customers, and was given a total refurbishment as a result.

Manager Caroline Reece said: “The Kendal store does really well so it was a reward to us and our customers. And it gives people a certainty that we are here to stay.”