Faire Survey Reveals the UK’s Dream High Street

November 1, 2023  |  By Faire

New research commissioned by Faire, the online wholesale marketplace, has unveiled that Britons would like to see a patisserie, deli, farm shop and vintage store on their perfect high street. 

Research of 2,000 adults found that one in four feel their local high street is just surviving, and want to see a resurgence, with 81 percent stating it’s very important to keep their high streets alive. Nearly three quarters of shoppers now visit independent retailers ‘often’ or ‘occasionally’, with a third shopping locally a few times a week.

It also revealed that 29% said it makes them happy or excited to wander around independent shops rather than standard chain stores. In fact, Britons see huge benefits to shopping with independent retailers, citing that they support the local economy (53%), provide better customer service (41%) and offer better quality and more interesting products (35%). 

It’s clear having easy access to a local high street is important for British consumers, with 63% stating they would travel for half an hour to shop, with over half (54%) stating they would shop online if they were forced to travel further. 

However, 44% admit they feel guilty if they do resort to shopping in supermarkets or chain stores. 

“The research reveals that there’s a real passion to support the high street, with the British public recognising the benefits of shopping with independent retailers citing that they offer high quality products and better customer service,” said Charlotte Broadbent, Faire UK Country Lead. “However, we cannot forget the impact of the ongoing cost of living crisis and it’s clear there’s a sense of guilt amongst consumers who naturally resort to shopping in supermarkets or in chain stores, on the hunt for value. Even in times where money might be tight, the results of this study really do back up the desire to see independent stores thrive locally, with consumers clearly showing they understand that supporting independent retailers helps the economy and that they are keen to see a variety of stores on their local high streets.”

When it comes to what different generations look for from their high street, over a quarter (26%) of young Millennials aged 25 to 34 years old want the perfect coffee shop that offers a flat white, while 28 percent of Gen Z’s state they want all products on their ideal high street to be sustainably created more so than any other generation.

Interestingly, sustainability is a key concern for those aged 35 to 44 years old who want to see zero waste stores on their high street (33%). They are also keen to have a craft beer seller (19%) while over half (58%) of those aged over 55 years old said a book shop with a cosy nook for reading was essential. 

Looking at regional differences, 71 percent of shoppers in the North East prioritise having a local butcher compared to 33 percent of Londoners. Instead, almost a quarter (23%) of Londoners wanted an art gallery, while over half (57%) of those in the North West were keen on having a cake shop on their high street, with a bakery stated as important to three quarters (76%) of those in the South West.

When it comes to Britons’ thoughts about their own local high streets, almost half of all respondents (48%) noticed a decrease in the number of independent shops opening and 55% said their favourite local shop had closed in the past two years. 

Three quarters (73%) said it made them feel sad or angry when they see a small retailer shut down and 71% say it is now time for independent shops to take over the space on high streets left by the closure of big brands like Wilkinson’s.

“Local independent retailers are the original influencers and trendsetters within their communities. Supporting them strengthens our community’s economic resilience and helps consumers benefit from shopping experiences specifically curated with their interests in mind,”added Charlotte Broadbent. “At Faire we’re committed to erasing the inherent disadvantages that independent retailers face when competing against larger chains and offer a variety of tools to help level the playing field, ensuring smaller retailers can compete on an equal footing. This research shows a real appetite for independent shopping, and we are happy to support retailers as they continue to contribute to the unique character of our UK high streets.”

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