British Property Foundation: Britons still regard the high street as an important shopping destination

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Britons still see their local high streets as offering something distinct from online shops and are keen to see them thrive, new research carried out by Ipsos MORI for the British Property Federation has revealed today.

Ipsos MORI interviewed 1,465 adults aged 15+ in-home across Britain between 8th and 18th November 2013.

Against the backdrop of huge hype around Christmas shopping events such as ‘Cyber Monday’, more than eight out of 10 British adults (83%) still think that the high street is better for buying some items than shopping online. The polling also shows that:

• More than nine out of 10 people (91%) think it is important for their local area that their high street does well, and more than eight in 10 (83%) think their area would be worse off without a local high street,

• Three-quarters (75%) say they visit their local high street at least once a week, with one in eight (12%) visiting nearly every day,

• One third (34%) feel their high street is getting worse (vs 18% getting better and 48% who think it is staying the same),

• Compared to shopping at out of town shopping centres, 30% say they rate their local high street as a ‘nicer place to shop’, and 42% prefer out of town.

In terms of what could tempt more people to visit their local high street more often, the most popular choice from a list of 16 was a better selection of shops (selected by 42%), ahead of fewer empty shops (31%), and far ahead of a better/more pleasant environment (14%) and better transport links (7%).

The polling, to be released at the British Property Federation’s Retail Property Conference this afternoon, found use and strong support for the high street across every gender, age, class and income group, although there was higher frequent use (every day or most days) among lower income groups, older people and those in northern England, Scotland and the East.

Even those who visited their local high street less often than once a month think the high street is important – almost three quarters of this group (72%) think it is important for their area that the high street does well.

Ben Page, Chief Executive, Ipsos MORI, said: “Despite constant worries about its health, the survey shows that the high street still occupies a special place in British hearts. Although most forecasts predict more and more online shopping, consumers prefer high street shopping for many categories. Our high streets will be safe if …they continue to adapt.”

Liz Peace, Chief Executive of the British Property Federation, said: “Almost one third of people say they would visit their high street more regularly if there were fewer empty shops, demonstrating how areas can quickly fall in to a spiral of decline. Urgent action is needed to encourage investment back in to struggling high streets to fill up the empties, increase footfall and restore some pride to these much-loved places.”

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