People across the UK are pessimistic about the prospects of economic recovery when they walk around their local high street, new research has revealed.
When questioned only 15% of people believe that walking down their local high street makes themn “feel optimistic about the chances of economic recovery”.
There is significant variation between areas, the most pessimistic region is the North East with 72% of people stating they are not optimistic; Londoners are the least pessimistic but still more than 4 out of 5 people say walking down their high streets does not make them feel optimistic about economic recovery. .
The High Street Barometer Survey conducted by ACS (the Association of Convenience Stores) found that not only do the majority of people believe that the shopping experience is worse - with less variety of shops - but the cost and difficulty of parking is driving shoppers away. The findings come following recent figures suggesting that on average 14.5% of shops on UK high streets are vacant.
The research also highlights a challenging decline in people’s sense of community. As many as three quarters of those surveyed reported they feel little or no sense of local identity when visiting their local high street.
ACS is calling on the Government to promote consumer confidence and revitalize high streets with a four point action plan for revitalizing the high street.
James Lowman, Chief Executive of ACS, said; “Although the results may seem to be all doom and gloom, there is a positive agenda at the heart of this research. High streets can, and will be, a place where people see economic recovery take hold but only if we take action.
“Identity comes from ensuring vibrant high streets with a diversity of shops. Small businesses will be the drivers of economic recovery, and the high street will be the symbol of that recovery.”
ACS believes high streets can grow if:
- Councils actively promote diversity and new retail investment in existing centres
- National planning guidance resists greater out of town development
- Councils are allowed to change the imbalance of parking charges in high streets compared to out of town retail parks
- The rating system is made fair for in-town stores
The ACS commissioned an independent poll of more than 2,001 people across England, Scotland and Wales. The polling was conducted online by ComRes on 6-7 April 2011. Data were weighted to be representative of all GB adults..