Local traders complain of loss of business thanks to race closing roads

The Tour of Britain damaged trade in Colchester, according to a survey of local businesses.

The Colchester Gazette reports that 68% of the 150 town centre businesses surveyed in the town complained of a severe drop in trade because roads were closed for the penultimate leg of the ToB on 17 September.

The survey was carried out by Sue Lissimore, shadow portfolio holder for economy and tourism at Colchester Council.

All of the food outlets surveyed – that’s 4% of the total – said they’d enjoyed better trade than usual, while 16% of traders said business was the same.

Tour of Britain commercial manager Alastair Grant said he hadn’t heard of complaints being made anywhere else visited by this year's Tour.

He suggested that many businesses would benefit from the presence of the Tour and a few would lose out – but that the overall effect should be positive.

He said, “It really depends on which types of business you speak to. Shops might well be affected but pubs, hotels and food outlets would probably do more business than usual.

“If you have a shop on the high street and the high street’s closed for the race then clearly there would be an impact on your trade for the day. But I would suggest that people who would have done their shopping that day might well simply come back the following day instead.”

There’s a bigger picture to bear in mind too, according to Grant. He said, “There aren’t that many days when places like Colchester enjoy the spotlight quite as much as when an event like the Tour of Britain comes to town. It offers a platform from which to promote Colchester – and to promote cycling too. I know they have some issues with traffic in the town and I think hosting the Tour was a fantastic opportunity to promote cycling.”

Grant said the Tour had commissioned an economic impact report based on interviews with people attending the race to find out how far they’d travelled and what they’d been spending their money on. The final report, expected at end of October, should throw some interesting new light on the question.

Lifelong lover of most things cycling-related, from Moulton Mini adventures in the 70s to London bike messengering in the 80s, commuting in the 90s, mountain biking in the noughties and road cycling throughout. Editor of Simpson Magazine (www.simpsonmagazine.cc).