LGA POLL – MYTHS OVER PREFERENCE FOR SUPERMARKETS BUSTED AS RESIDENTS PREFER LOCAL SHOPS
Myths that supermarket chains have a greater role to play on high streets than diverse local shops have today been exposed by a new opinion poll.
Nearly eight in ten local people believe that local producers (79 per cent), such as a butcher or baker, are critical to the future success of their high streets. Whilst local shops polled strongly, less than half of local residents (47 per cent) believe that supermarkets had a role to play in the future success of high streets, the Local Government Association/ComRes poll found.
Older people feel even more strongly about local shops, with 93 per cent of over 65s saying that they believe the local grocer or butcher to be crucial to high streets, whilst 88 per cent of the same group saying that local amenities such as post offices and libraries are important.
The survey also showed that local people are keen for a range of shops on their high street – with amenities such as post offices, libraries and dry cleaners being sought after by 74 per cent of respondents. Retail shops (75 per cent), restaurants and cafes (69 per cent) and newsagents (66 per cent) also score highly, indicating the importance placed on diverse high streets.
Councils have been pushing for more entertainment and leisure facilities on high streets to provide them with greater long term security. The polling showed that young people in particular recognise the importance of entertainment, with over half of 18-24 year olds (53 per cent) seeking facilities such as cinemas and bowling alleys. 38 per cent of the same group believe that sports centres can contribute towards the future success of high streets.
Cllr Peter Box, Chair of the LGA’s Economy and Transport Board, said:
“These figures clearly show that nearly eight in ten residents across the country want to see a diverse range of local shops – such as butchers, clothes shops and post offices - on their high streets.
“Councils are calling on the Government to give them greater powers to shape their high streets, and over three quarters of local residents now support them in their efforts to do so.
“High streets across the UK have suffered a cardiac arrest and it is now time to let local authorities step in and deliver the necessary life support.”
Councils have previously called for a five point plan to give local high streets a shot in the arm. Other proposals include: the means to takeover empty shops; more powers over local transport; local control over apprenticeship schemes and less unnecessary red tape. Councils are also keen to work closer with businesses to ensure that economic growth remains a priority, for example through Business Improvement Districts (see Notes to Editor).
The LGA has this week also produced a report containing essays from a series of contributors on the future of our high streets. The contributors highlighted the importance of making high streets more of a cultural hub, improving night time safety and the need to focus on more than just retail premises.
The poll comes as local people have expressed major concerns over the clustering of premises such as betting shops and fast food takeaways on high streets. To tackle this, the LGA is calling for a new ‘super’ planning class, would give councils the power to stop an over-concentration of certain premises and the ability to promote a greater diversity of smaller, independent retailers (see Notes to Editor).
ComRes surveyed 1875 adults in England and Wales online between 8 and 9 February 2012. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all adults in England and Wales. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.