RETAILERS in Dorset saw encouraging footfall figures over the Easter holidays, in contrast to the national picture.

Nationally, the research firm Springboard found the number of visitors to UK shops was down 1.9 per cent on the previous Easter.

But in Bournemouth, town centre, manager Roger Parker said shopping hours were up 25 per cent over the break and early-evening visitor figures were up by 55 per cent.

“It’s looking as if Bournemouth has traded and attracted tourists to its normal expected level over Easter,” he said.

The figures indicated a “pretty standard Easter in a busy coastal tourism town”.

Castlepoint sought to boost visitor numbers with the addition of life-size model dinosaurs, designed to be educational as well as entertaining children over the Easter holidays.

General manager Peter Matthews said: “We were really pleased with the level of numbers that came in.

“I think the dinosaurs made a huge difference.”

The centre counts the number of cars arriving rather than footfall. It found visits by car were up over the two-week Easter school holidays.

“What’s difficult is that last year Easter was much earlier which meant we also had the Next sale and M&S doing their friends and family promotion, which means the figures are distorted,” he said.

“But taking that out of it, I think we were about three per cent up, which is very pleasing.

Easter Saturday saw around 16,500 cars at the centre. “I think it was as good an Easter Saturday as I can remember for some time”,” Mr Matthews added.

Nationally, Springboard reported that footfall was down 7.6 per cent on Good Friday and 8.7 per cent on the Saturday, year on year.