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Retail information

Why choose Bedford

Bedford’s appeal is really growing. It has a vibrant town centre offering shoppers a range of high quality shops, from large department stores and major chains like Debenhams and Marks and Spencer that blend really well with the bustling open air markets, niche retailers and designer boutiques.

The pedestrianised shopping centre hosts over 300 shops, beautiful arcades and hidden courtyards to explore and a shopping mall with all the well-known names, all set against the historic backdrop of the river. The blending of the old with the new, all in all, makes Bedford an excellent choice for shopping and visiting.

View the Retail Factsheet detailing Bedford's demographics, catchment size and growth area.

Retail statistics

The town centre is faring very well. Footfall has increased year on year and 2017 is no different, with each month better than the last, an overall increase of 5%. The latest vacancy figures also reveal a positive picture.

View latest town centre performance information. This factsheet details the latest footfall figures, vacancy rates, investment and developments, new businesses opening, events and other news. 

Town centre regeneration

The regeneration of Bedford town centre is a top priority for the Council. It is driving it forward through physical redevelopment and delivering an £18 million programme of infrastructure, network and public realm improvements in and around the town centre. Bedford will have 26% growth in housing over the next 20 years, which will see the need for a revitalised town centre offer even more important. 

Read here to find out why Bedford is in a class of its own

Recent developments include:

  • Riverside Bedford, a multi million pound leisure-led waterfront scheme
  • Bus Station area regeneration which has seen a new terminal, shopfronts and public realm improvements
  • Heritage led High Street scheme, reinstating traditional shopfronts and bringing vacant space back into use
  • The Higgins, Bedford, Museum and Art Gallery has had a major facelift and much improved visitor experience
  • Castle Quay, a heritage led mixed use scheme within the Cultural Quarter

See more information on these completed projects

New schemes in development include:

  • Harpur Shopping Centre investment to increase the A3 footprint and improve surrounding public realm
  • One Public Estate Programme, which aims to utilise better pubic sector land, properties and services to bring forward housing and development in the town centre. 
  • Town Centre Transport Strategy

See more information on these live projects

Available town centre retail properties

Even though the vacancy rate in the town centre is low at 7%, there are still a number of prime properties to choose from including:

75 High Street - opposite Debenhams and on busy High Street junction

27-29 Midland Road - very close to Primark, Topshop, Next, Marks & Spencer, Costa, WH Smith and Days Department Store (yet to open)

58b High St - opposite Debenhams in core retail area with adjoining unit also available

35-37 Harpur St - close to Marks & Spencer and Clarks

See currently available Harpur Shopping Centre units here or to speak to GCW about future plans for the Centre. Please call 0207 6474805 / 0207 6474819

Bedford BID

Bedford town centre has a Business Improvement District which covers the retail core of the centre and is funded by almost 600 town centre businesses with the aim of providing a fun and safe environment for our customers to keep them coming back for more. 

Now in its third term, the BID aims to:

  • market and promote Bedford town Centre and make Bedford a destination through the presentation of high quality events
  • enhance the visitor experience and develop the customer offer
  • continue to forge strong partnerships, working with others to create a vibrant, economically strong and attractive town for residents and visitors alike
  • be sustainable

See more information on Bedford BID