Despite the challenges of the pandemic and the economy, the last few months have shown a significant, positive upswing for Cheltenham.
Business confidence in the town is up with several new businesses setting up shop across the town centre.
Sweaty Betty opened its third South West store to a queue of excited shoppers in January, with the new Superdry Boutique store, the first of its kind, taking up residence just a few doors up the Promenade.
Regent Arcade has also welcomed the arrival of two sportswear giants in recent months. Decathlon, the world’s largest sports retailer, took over a large portion of the former BHS unit, whilst UK’s leading trainer and sports fashion retailer, JD Sports, found a home in the arcades entrance unit that used to be Topshop.
Of course, not all the new businesses arriving in Cheltenham have been sportswear stores. Several new bars and restaurants have opened up, with many more to come over the next few weeks, and some exciting new boutique shops and galleries too.
Artist-run gallery and pop-up exhibition space Spring Cheltenham opened in September in Montpellier, adding to the already thriving art quarter created by the nearby Gardens Gallery, Paragon Gallery, and Park Gallery.
Elsewhere, specialist dog outfitters Archie’s, which closed during lockdown, has sprung open in a much larger property on Montpellier Walk while Independent drinks specialist Merchant + Lab opened in November. Offering a shop, micro-distillery and tasting room all in one venue.
Cheltenham Borough Council also completed a 10-year lease to Taco Bell late last year, with the fast-food restaurant opening shortly after. The chain had been looking at Cheltenham for several years but felt now was the right time to open shop.
The Brewery Quarter is also looking more vibrant than ever, with several new tenants, such as Mowgli Street Food and HubBox, opening their doors to the public in 2021.
Beer champion Brewdog, award-winning social darts venue Flight Club, and Vietnamese street food restaurant Pho are all set to arrive early this year as well, cementing the Quarter as one of Cheltenham’s most exciting, continuing developments.
According to the Brewery Quarter’s marketing manager Demelsa Coleman, weekly footfall between September and November last year averaged 90,000, up 26 per cent over 2020, with many venues reporting growth on 2019 figures.
With the retail and hospitality sectors continuing to show significant signs of recovery and growth, a record number of visitors coming to the town over the Christmas period and footfall figures continuing to rise, Cheltenham’s business boom paints a hopeful picture for the future.