What makes the perfect high street

The perfect high street should have a bakery, post office and restaurant according to Brits. It should also boast a butcher and a pub, with a library, fishmonger and a zero waste shop or refill store also on the wish list. Yet only 17 per cent do the majority of their shopping from smaller, local businesses and establishments, with 43 per cent admitting to using their high street just once a month or less. However, a study of 2,000 people also found 74 per cent are sad about the decline of the local high street, and 78 per cent want to see its resurgence.

The research was commissioned by Tyl by NatWest, a payments provider for SMEs and micro businesses. In a bid to stimulate the return of their high street, 41 per cent would switch to shopping locally. However, 27 per cent continued to shop locally to support smaller businesses, 58 per cent would be more inclined to shop with them if they offered rewards or loyalty schemes.

CEO, Mike Elliff, said: “There are still many fantastic high streets to be found in Britain, but there are also many factors eroding our use of them on a regular basis. This research also shows the popularity of the food and drink industry, taking the majority of the top ten voted for shops.

“Making up the backbone of a perfect high street, business owners have the opportunity to improve sales and really grab a slice of the high street action. Having great local businesses on our doorstep is something Brits really appreciate, and it would be a shame to see the high street continue its decline in the wake of the online shopping boom and the effects of the pandemic. With the cost of trading and an impending recession, it’s important that we support our local shops as much as possible.”

The study also found 31 per cent of those polled have noticed a significant decline on their high street in recent years, including more vacant shops and vandalism with 34 per cent said that visiting such areas makes them feel sad or depressed.

Over half (55 per cent) feel guilty for not making use of the local businesses available to them, opting for bigger supermarkets and chains instead. However, 26 per cent are concerned about the costs associated with moving away from buying their goods at larger chain stores. Charity and pound stores have become more prevalent, with an average of four of these cropping up on a typical British high street, the study carried out via OnePoll found.

Online shopping was identified as one of the primary reasons for the decline, with 37 per cent believing changing shopping habits have impacted bricks-and-mortar business negatively.

While 18 per cent believe the increase in the cost of trading is behind the decline, 17 per cent blame on the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown. Conversely, 41 per cent believe lockdown and being stuck at home gave them a greater appreciation for the shops and services available to them on their doorstep.

As a result of these negative factors, nearly half (49 per cent) have noticed one or more of their favourite shops on the high street shutting down for good. However, despite the low usage of the nation’s high streets, 49 per cent believe their local high street ticks all the boxes for their needs.

The top 20 businesses people would like to see on the perfect high street

  1. Bakery
  2. Post office
  3. Restaurant
  4. Coffee shop/café
  5. Clothing shops
  6. Supermarket
  7. Cake shop
  8. Bookshop
  9. Local butchers
  10. Pub
  11. Card/gift shop
  12. Takeaway
  13. Library
  14. Hair salon
  15. Gift shops
  16. Patisserie
  17. Charity shops
  18. Deli
  19. Farm shop
  20. Dentist/Orthodontist
  21. Vintage/second-hand shops
  22. Cinema
  23. Arts and crafts shop
  24. Fishmonger
  25. Zero waste shop/refill store

Mike Elliff  added: “This study on the perfect high street, has revealed a romantic notion around the shops and businesses we still have right on our doorstep. We would encourage Brits to cut down on this reminiscing and instead venture out onto the high street and discover their next favourite local store. It may be just around the corner. Make the high street the bread and butter of your local community again.”