Independent retailers in the South East optimistic about the future of the Great British high street – and eight in ten shoppers would miss their high street if it was no longer there
- More than half (54.3%) of South East retailers are ‘optimistic’ or ‘very optimistic’ about the future of their local high street
- More than three quarters (78.8%) of South East consumers believe that the high street is ‘about people’
- More than eight in ten (83.5%) shoppers would miss the high street if it was no longer there
- Research coincides with launch of the government-backed Great British High Street Awards 2018, sponsored by Visa, to find the nation’s leading high streets
South East, England – 20th June 2018: More than half (54.3%) of the South East’s independent high street retailers are optimistic about the future of their local high street – and eight in ten shoppers would miss their local high street if it was no longer there.
This is according to new research commissioned to launch the Government-run Great British High Street Awards 2018, sponsored by Visa. The research reveals that despite recent negative economic forecasts and high-profile retail chain closures:
- More than four in ten (43.4%) independent South East retailers describe themselves as ‘optimistic’ about the future of their local high street and one in ten (10.9%) are ‘very optimistic’ about the future of their local high streets;
- More than half (55%) say they predict more bars, restaurants and coffee shops will appear on their high street over the next five years.
Communities Secretary Rt Hon. James Brokenshire MP said at today’s launch: "The Great British High Street Awards acknowledge in a very important way how high streets are so vital to our nation. High streets are crucial in creating jobs, nurturing small businesses and driving local and regional economies. We want to celebrate the best examples of high streets, as well as those individual businessmen and women playing a leading role.
"The Government is doing everything in our power to ensure high streets continue to thrive."
Suzan Kereere, Head of Merchant Services, Europe, Visa, added: “Visa is very proud to be supporting the Great British High Street Awards at a time when the nation’s high streets are transforming as both technology and consumer behaviour evolve, with consumers looking for a range of different experiences on their high streets. Businesses and communities have shown themselves to be highly adaptable, resilient and creative in meeting these demands.
“Visa is committed to finding innovative ways to support merchants and consumers and helping communities and economies to thrive. High street merchants help to establish and preserve bonds within communities that are as valuable as the economic benefits they generate.”
The findings also show that almost two thirds (65.1%) of South East retailers say being part of a local community and building relationships with customers are what they enjoy most about running their business, with almost one in four (37.3%) saying their high street is ‘improving’ or ‘vastly improving.’
But the view from shoppers in the South East is less positive, with more than seven in ten (72.5%) describing their high street as ‘staying the same’ or ‘getting worse’ and 21.6% claiming there aren’t enough shops and services on it to meet their needs.
And 63% say they feel ‘neutral’ or ‘not very optimistic’ about the future of their high street – despite more than 70% of South East consumers visiting their local high street at least once a week.
However, more than eight in ten (83.5%) people across the South East would miss their local high street if it no longer existed – and more than three quarters (78.8%) believe it is the people they meet there, in terms of both shoppers and retailers, that make it what it is.
Asked what would encourage consumers to visit their high street more and over half (54.2%) said more shops, almost four in ten (38.5%) said a better variety of shops and services and a similar number (37.4%) said better parking or public transport facilities.
Across the UK, the Great British High Street Awards 2018 research also reveals:
- More than half (53%) of the nation’s independent high street retailers are optimistic about the future of their local high street;
- Almost eight in ten (78%) independent high street retailers say building relationships with customers and being a part of a community is what they love the most about running their high street business;
- Independent retailers are more likely to consider the presence of national chains as a POSITIVE factor, with around half (49.3%) saying it attracts shoppers to the area, compared to just a quarter (26%) who claim they lose business to larger retailers offering cheaper products and services;
- A fifth of shoppers (21.3%) claim there aren’t enough shops and services to suit their needs and nearly two thirds (63%) say they feel ‘neutral’ or ‘not very optimistic’ about the future of their local high street
- But, 81% of people across the UK would miss their local high street if it no longer existed;
- Wales is the place most likely to see a big rise in high street coffee shops over the next five years, according to local independent traders, while Scotland will most likely see high street shops converted into housing or office space over the same period.
The Great British High Street Awards 2018, which are being run by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, sponsored by Visa and backed by other partners, is recognising and celebrating local achievements on our high streets and supporting the communities in which we live and work.
The initiative also includes a competition to find the nation’s best high streets, with winners being named in England, Scotland, Wales and – for the first time – Northern Ireland, across two categories: the Champion and Rising Star awards. An overall winner will also be named.
It was announced at today’s launch that author and TV presenter Simon Reeve will be a judge for the Great British High Street Awards 2018.
Mr Reeve said: “I’ve spent the last 16 years travelling around the world and investigating what is happening in other countries, so I’m really looking forward to being a bit closer to home and meeting the unsung heroes helping the nation’s high streets to thrive.”
In 2016, Blackburn in Lancashire was crowned the Great British High Street winner thanks to the determination of the community and local businesses who worked in partnership to drive improvements and overcome the challenges their high street was facing.
This year, winners of the Champion award, celebrating the UK’s best high streets, will be named in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, with an overall national winner also selected. Four Rising Star High Streets – high streets that are taking the lead and working to adapt and diversify – will also be named. Shortlisted entries will be announced in September 2018.
For more information about the Great British High Street Awards 2018 and to enter, visit: http://thegreatbritishhighstreet.co.uk