ALMOST eight million visitors chose Gunwharf Quays to shop, eat and be entertained last year.
It means that over half a million more people visited in 2011 than in 2010.
And while the end of the centre’s financial year is still five weeks away, Peter Emery, director of Gunwharf, said it was on track to have beaten last year’s sales by 10 per cent in both retail and food and drink.
He said it was a measure of success that Gunwharf Quays is not just attracting visitors, but they are spending money too.
Talking about the sales increase, he said: ‘It’s quite unusual compared with how the high streets are faring and we’re very, very pleased.
‘We are one of the top performing centres for Land Securities, which is the largest property owner in the UK.’
The figures show 7,917,908 people visited in 2011, compared to 7,366,795 in 2010.
Mr Emery puts Gunwharf’s success down to simply giving the customer what they want and always paying close attention on which shops remain popular and which have declined.
He also says offering entertainment such as the annual fireworks display, attractions in the main square and new initiatives such as the boat show in May, all adds up to attracting customers.
He said: ‘Why come to Portsmouth in the first place? Why come to Gunwharf?
‘It’s all about the mix, it’s all about the offer and once we have people in it’s a question of keeping them, with the entertainment we offer, with the catering here.
‘Keeping it fresh is the most important thing.
‘Gunwharf is always changing, always having new shops and restaurants. The more people come to Gunwharf, the more likely people are to visit other attractions in Portsmouth such as the Historic Dockyard, for example.’
The figures showed that half of those people who visited the centre last year live within a 22-minute drive away.