Vast majority say that the high street remains essential for healthy communities

A new survey has revealed that public sentiment toward the high street remains strong, with shoppers keen to support local businesses and an overwhelming majority believing that it is vital for the health of the community.

Related topics:  Property,  commercial,  High street,  community
Property | Reporter
9th October 2023
High Street 397
"The vast majority of people believe that the highstreet is a vital part of any thriving community, but it seems these spaces just aren’t being given the chance to succeed as they once did"
- Emma Selby - SiGNAL

New research by Hampshire-based business network and flexible workspace provider, SiGNAL, has found that despite the UK public’s passion for the local high street remaining as strong as ever, innovations such as mixed-use space and later opening hours are required to attract people to visit more frequently.

SiGNAL has conducted a survey of 1,172 members of the UK public to gain insight into current sentiment towards the local high street and where they think the local high street experience can be improved.

When asked how likely they are to shop on their local high street in the next two weeks, only 20% responded with ‘definitely’ and a further 37% with ‘quite likely’.

The remaining 43% responded with either ‘unlikely’ or ‘definitely not’.

Despite such a significant proportion of people saying they won’t or are unlikely to, shop on their high street any time soon when asked if they believe that a vibrant local highstreet is an essential part of a healthy, connected local community, an overwhelming 90% responded with ‘yes’.

Furthermore, an even larger majority of people (95%) say that they think it’s important to support local businesses in their area, so why is it that so many are choosing not to shop on their high street, and what might tempt them to do so more often?

66% of respondents say that they would be more likely to shop on their high street if they were already there for another reason, such as working in their office, attending the cinema, or visiting the dentist.

To this end, 81% say that they would welcome a mix of office space and workspace being introduced to the high street alongside retail, services, leisure, and hospitality.

What’s more, not only would people welcome workspace being added to the high street, but 55% say they would actively make use of such space, including co-working, and micro offices.

When asked about other ways in which the high street could be improved and thus attract them to shop there more often, 43% of respondents said that later opening hours would make a big difference, with a further 11% saying that earlier opening hours would help.

40% said that pedestrianised shopping areas or precincts would be a welcome addition making them more likely to shop locally.

Emma Selby, Managing Director at SiGNAL, says: “It’s a joy to see that the British public still have so much passion for their local high street and for supporting local businesses, but concerning that this passion is not translating into regular shopping trips.

"The vast majority of people believe that the high street is a vital part of any thriving community, but it seems these spaces just aren’t being given the chance to succeed as they once did.

"Developers, planners, and retailers alike need to be looking at what people want and delivering it, from family-friendly, safe spaces to enable less-stressful shopping trips, to more convenient opening hours that enable people to support their local high street after work during the week.

Emma concludes: "It’s clear that the way forward is mixed-use highstreets with people living, working, shopping, and playing in the same area. This gives people a real reason to regularly visit and use their high street, enabling them to support our vital local businesses, and contribute to a community hub that helps everyone involved thrive.”

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