Belfast Telegraph

High street shoppers ‘want fewer vaping stores and more family-run firms’

The three most common words people associate with their high street are ‘sad’, ‘bleak’ and ‘indifferent’, Nationwide Building Society said.

Shoppers want to see fewer vaping and betting stores in their local high street and more family-run businesses including bakeries and butchers, Nationwide Building Society said (Ben Birchall/PA)
Shoppers want to see fewer vaping and betting stores in their local high street and more family-run businesses including bakeries and butchers, Nationwide Building Society said (Ben Birchall/PA)

By Vicky Shaw, PA Personal Finance Correspondent

Shoppers want to see fewer vaping and betting stores in their local high street and more family-run businesses including bakeries and butchers, a survey has found.

More than two-thirds (67%) of people say their high street has declined in the last five years, falling into disrepair and, in many cases, being vacated by businesses, according to the poll for Nationwide Building Society.

The growing popularity of online shopping has had a huge impact on “bricks and mortar” shops in recent years.

But seven in 10 (71%) people surveyed by Nationwide still feel their high street is an important part of their community – and they shop there twice a week on average.

More than half (54%) feel there is not enough variety in their high street and over a third (38%) think the stores there do not reflect their own shopping habits.

  • Fewer empty stores (45%)
  • More big-name shops (34%)
  • More greenery (26%)
  • Less litter (23%)
  • Newly decorated shopfronts and signs (22%)

And more than a fifth (21%) of those whose high street does not meet their needs say it is a generally unpleasant place to shop.

Changes people would like to see include fewer empty stores (45%), more big-name shops (34%), more greenery (26%), less litter (23%), and newly decorated shopfronts and signs (22%).

Asked what type of shop they want to see more of, more than a third (35%) said family-run businesses, a quarter want more bakeries and over a fifth want more butchers’ shops.

Just over a fifth (21%) would also like to see more market stalls.

Asked what outlets people would like fewer of, 31% said betting shops and casinos, and 30% chose vaping shops.

Nearly three-quarters (72%) of those questioned admitted they would judge a town based on the state of its high street alone.

The survey of more than 2,000 people also asked which words they associate most with their high street.

The three most common answers were “sad” (21%), “bleak” (19%) and “indifferent” (18%).

Nearly half (46%) of respondents have also previously felt unsafe in their local area.

Nationwide, which announced last year that it would not leave any town or city without a branch until at least May 2021, said it believes branches remain integral to high streets.

Branch network director Mandy Beech said: “Our research shows that high streets are still very much loved by the nation, despite the decline over the years.

“The reality is these traditional shopping centres are at the heart of our communities and they really matter to the lives of people. Our research shows that Britons want to shop on the high street, but they’re just not necessarily getting the experience they are looking for.”

Here are the shops people want to see more of in their high street, with the percentages of those who chose these options, according to Nationwide Building Society:
1. Family-run businesses, 35%
2. Clothes shops, 28%
3. Bakeries, 25%
4. Butchers, 22%
5. Market stalls, 21%

Here are the shops people want to see less of in their high street, with the percentages of those who chose these options, according to Nationwide Building Society:
1. Betting shops/casinos, 31%
2. Vaping shops, 30%
3. Charity shops, 25%
4. Takeaway food shops, 22%
5. Pawn shops, 18%

PA

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