Supporting local businesses is one of the most important reasons to shop on Lincoln’s high street – according to a recent survey conducted by retail PR experts Cartwright Communications.
The survey, which aimed to gather data about the shopping habits of residents in Birmingham, Derby, Leicester, Lincoln and Nottingham, found that 83% of all respondents from Lincoln consider it highly important to support local businesses and independent retailers.
At a time when empty shop fronts are on the rise and online retailers continue to grow, it is often reported that city centres are struggling to attract the footfall needed to remain profitable in the current climate.
However, recent findings suggest that the desire to support small businesses is driving footfall to the high street and encouraging residents to shop in store, buy locally and receive customer service in person.
Paula West, owner of independent, Lincoln-based retailer Heritage, said: “Independent shops offer a uniqueness that cannot be replicated on the high street. In this 21st century culture, the shopper is looking for a more experience-based purchase where the ambience, service and non-corporate atmosphere offered by the independents becomes the natural choice.”
Yet results also show that – despite this support – there is a greater demand for leisure facilities on the high street that precedes retail units. Bars and restaurants, coffee shops and cafes, hairdressers and beauty salons all ranked above retailers as the reason people visit their local high street, proving that services and experiences are starting to overtake the traditional retail focus of city centres.
Previously a firm favourite, fashion retailers now rank fourth in popularity. While this may correlate directly to the rise in fast fashion websites, 50% of responses stated that in-store retailers do not do enough to entice shoppers to the high street. Amidst the rising demand for leisure experiences, there is a call for retailers to improve experiential shopping and do more to encourage shopping behaviours to return to the high street.
Liz Cartwright, managing director at Cartwright Communications, said: “We’ve gained some truly fascinating insight from the survey. It’s interesting to see that fashion retailers are on the decline in terms of attracting people to local high streets and that the needs of shoppers are shifting. No longer are people visiting city centres to purchase products, but rather as a social pastime.”
The survey also asked what people would like to see more of on the high street, with answers ranging from free parking and events, to more jewellery and shoe shops.
Liz continued: “We had a wide range of responses for what people would like to see more of, which shows that there is still work to be done in terms of master planning in city centres. One of the answers that did stand out was the demand for sustainable shopping options. Zero waste shops are currently on the rise so it will be interesting to see how growing concerns for the environment will affect the retail and leisure industry in years to come.”