Independent retail drives town centre footfalls finds survey

Supporting local businesses is a key reason for shoppers to visit their local high street, according new consumer research conducted in the Midlands.

A survey carried out by Cartwright Communications looked into the shopping habits of residents of Birmingham, Derby, Leicester, Lincoln and Nottingham. It found that 63% of all respondents consider it extremely important to support local independent retailers, and other local brands. The report suggests that this is a significant driver of footfall to town centre locations.

Nottingham Trent University retail research associate Nelson Blackley said, “The survey confirms that over 70% of respondents visit their local high street, which is good news for their continued survival and suggests that physical stores and the high street still serve a purpose.

“The responses also show that most consumers are keen to support local businesses, which is great for local independent retailers trading on our high streets and in our town centres. There is real demand for those products, services and experiences that consumers just can’t get online.”

However, the survey also showed a stronger demand for leisure facilities than for more retail outlets in those town centres. Bars, restaurants, coffee shops, hairdressers and beauty salons drive footfall more than stores, found the report.

Fashion retailers – previously a big driver of footfall – now rank fourth in terms of popularity, according to the report. Shoppers taking part in the study wanted to see free parking, an increased police presence, greater pedestrianisation, and more boutiques.

“It’s interesting to see that fashion retailers are on the decline in terms of attracting people to local high streets and that the needs of shoppers are shifting. No longer are people visiting city centres to purchase products, but rather as a social pastime,” says Cartwright Communications managing director Liz Cartwright.

“We had a wide range of responses for what people would like to see more of, which shows that there is still work to be done in terms of master planning in city centres. One of the answers that did stand out was the demand for more banks and post offices. This shows that, despite recent closures around the country, these amenities have always traditionally brought people to the high street and it seems this is still the case.”

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