Last week, a survey was conducted amongst shopkeepers in the town. This was instigated by Griselda Mussett as a result of a conversation with a trader who stated that one third of her customers ask about the Creek .
This was not a comprehensive survey but an informal tally covering shops in the Marketplace, Preston Street, West Street and East Street, and some market traders. About 100 traders were approached, and about 75 took part. Some respondents gave multiple answers, all of which were recorded. A wide variety of businesses was included, from specialist retailers to service providers, charity shops, etc reflecting the variety in the town centre.
There is clearly a great deal more relevant and useful information which could be gained by further questions, and extending the area of survey. These are some initial conclusions from the survey:
It is a common experience for customers to ask traders for directions to the Creek; – 60 out of 66 replies said this happened often or sometimes.
The Creek is by far the most frequent destination which people ask for – at 34 mentions out of 119 it was roughly one third of queries, and nearly 3 times more than the next query – a general group we have called ‘shops’ – which elicited 13 queries in total. The brewery, ‘somewhere to eat’, and the Tourist Information Centre were each cited 10 times. The other destinations tail off into very low single figures, most less than 1%
This remarkable finding confirms what that first trader told me – that one third of customers in Faversham’s shops and the market place ask about the Creek. Presumably there are more people coming to the town who already know where it is. This demonstrates the pulling power of the Creek – at a time when there is no concerted promotion of its attractions, whereabouts or potential. This represents a massive economic potential for the town.
It would be interesting to find out how many people who live in Faversham do not know where the Creek is, but there is a strong indication that people from quite long distances are coming to see the Creek, and there is strong interest from visitors in the more immediate proximity, within Kent, for example.
Respondents were asked what are the most common questions they get about the Creek. The overwhelming and repeated response was ‘Where is it?’ with subsidiary questions about activities, places to eat, etc.
It seems that improving signage in the town should be a priority, especially directing people to various points on the Creek.
There was a robust response about how various developments or events on the creek might affect the respondents’ businesses. Many gave a straight ‘Good’ response to all 4 suggestions, but some were more guarded. The most popular ideas were Events, and Visitor Attractions. Of 149 positive responses, only about a fifth thought housing would have a beneficial impact.
Of 41 people who think that development or activity on the Creekside would be a bad thing, over half said the shops and restaurants would be bad, and 15 thought housing would be bad.
The most common comment about more shops and pubs by the Creekside was that we have enough already – almost as many people thought they would have a bad impact as a good one.
However, the overall impression is that ‘anything’ on the Creek would be good for business in the town, particularly if people had to park in the centre and walk to the Creek.
Griselda Mussett, June 29th, 2013.