Businesses have taken part in a survey, providing feedback on Bridgend County Borough Council’s inaugural Digital Christmas Festival.
Designed to support local businesses by providing opportunities for showcasing products while enabling shoppers to browse at their leisure, the festival aimed to offer residents safe, alternative ways of celebrating Christmas in town centres during the coronavirus pandemic.
Businesses across the county borough were invited to take part in the initiative which was developed on behalf of the local authority by EPM Creative.
Running from 14 November to 5 January, a total of 127 businesses from across the county borough took part, with 70 completing a post-event survey.
85% of respondents said they took part in the event with three quarters of business rating it as excellent or good.
Businesses said the benefits involved being able to promote their own business in a different way, the promotion of the town centre over the Christmas period and helping to secure sales. Half of the respondents said the initiative had brought in new customers.
When asked about the town centre apps which were introduced, 87% of respondents thought they worked as a way to promote their business and the town centre.
Going forward, the majority of respondents said they would prefer social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram to support their businesses and town centre in the future. This was followed by a town centre app (39%) and town centre website (19%).
Cllr Richard Young, Cabinet Member for Communities, said: “The festival was part of the council’s efforts to support retailers during these very difficult times of coronavirus restrictions.
“The website and town centre apps helped to give local businesses a boost while also allowing our residents to participate in some of the magic of the festive season at a time when we were unable to all come together to celebrate.
“Many thanks to those businesses who took part and also completed the survey with valuable feedback provided. We were pleased to see that many thought it was a helpful initiative and it was good for the town and businesses during a difficult time.
“The results will now be used to evaluate how we move forward with the digital high street.
“I would urge residents to continue to download the town centre apps, which are still supporting essential retailers and those offering click and collect services – supporting our local businesses has become more important than ever.”
Paul Whittaker, creative director of EPM Creative, said: “It’s been a pleasure to work with businesses across the three towns and help to facilitate the building of their profiles, driving trade to them in these testing times.
“We are happy with the response to the survey. It proves that when organisations work together during these difficult times, we can find solutions to help to keep the local economy open and operational. We feel this is something to build on and work with in the future.”
Beth Daniel, acting chair of Bridgend Traders Forum, said: “The Digital Christmas Festival was a great way to encourage residents to connect with town centre businesses during a very difficult Christmas period for local traders.
“Businesses were featured daily, and vouchers and loyalty rewards were offered to encourage sales. The scheme has been successful, with traders reporting plenty of engagement and custom.
“On behalf of Bridgend Traders Forum, I would like to say a big thank you for the support we have received.”
For more details about downloading the town centre apps for Maesteg, Bridgend and Porthcawl, visit the Digital Christmas website.