The ACS Community Barometer looks at what consumers, shop owners and local councilors think about the services in their local area, what they want more (or less) of, and what they believe Government and councils should be doing to give local shops on high streets the best chance to thrive.
The 2017 Community Barometer has revealed that Post Offices and convenience stores are the nation’s favourite high street shops and services for the third year running.
The survey of UK consumers and local councillors across the UK showed that the top three services which have the most positive impact locally are post offices (1), convenience stores (2) and specialist food shops like butchers and bakeries (3).
The services that people wanted to see more of in their local area were specialist food shops, banks and non-food retailers like hardware and clothing stores. The numbers of these and other specialist stores have fallen in recent years in the face of increasing competition on the high street, high business rates costs and increasing wage bills.
Speaking on the launch of the report, Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said: “Despite the continuing growth of online shopping and the range of services being provided for consumers on the internet, it is clear that the British public still value the contribution that convenience stores and local post offices make to communities. The decline in the number of specialist stores like pharmacies, bakeries and banks has been picked up in part by convenience stores looking to increase the range of services that they offer, especially in isolated and rural areas. The modern convenience store sector is now as much about providing essential services as it is traditional groceries.”
Reducing the cost of parking charges in local car parks is the top priority of consumers but falls second to last among the list of priorities for councillors who are keener to make investment in public transport and shopping areas, and gain further control over planning regulations.
Retailers believe that reducing business rates should be the top priority, fuelled by increases in rates for many as a result of the 2017 revaluation.