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 2016 Community Barometer has revealed that Post Offices, convenience stores and pharmacies were seen as having the most positive impact in their local area by consumers, MPs and local councillors.
The high street services that people most want to see more of are specialist food shops, banks and restaurants, many of which have seen a decline in recent years as the cost of doing business increases, and on line competition intensifies.
Speaking on the launch of the report, ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The results of this report show that convenience stores have remained at the heart of their communities in the face of intense competition. Local shops have evolved their offering to customers in recent years; now providing services like freshly brewed coffee, food to go and more locally sourced products. Additionally, about ten thousand Post Offices are now integrated within their local convenience stores, on top of which many other stores offer bill payments, free cash machines and other vital services.”
The report also showed disagreement among consumers, retailers and councillors over what should be done to support local shops and high streets. One of the top priorities for consumers was reducing the cost of parking in their local area to allow them to shop on their high street, while business saw tackling business rates as a top priority. Councillors did not put either of these issues at the top of their agenda, instead focusing on technical issues like changing planning use classes.
Mr Lowman continued: “There is a clear disconnect between what consumers and businesses believe will help their high street, and what councillors believe they should prioritise. With councils now having more powers to influence high streets, for example on business rates, it’s essential that local people and businesses make their voices heard. This is why we’ve launched new guidance for convenience store owners on how they can build relationships with everyone from local councils to the police, schools and metro mayors.”