New research released by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has revealed how the public, retailers and local councillors feel about their high streets.
The Community Barometer shows that convenience stores and post offices were seen to be the services which had the most positive impact on their local community, with coffee shops, pharmacies and specialist food shops following close behind.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Convenience stores have long been established at the heart of their communities, so it’s encouraging to see that the general public and councillors recognise the impact that they have on their local area. Local shops have revolutionised their offer to customers over recent years, with many now providing hot food to go, coffee, parcel services and a great core convenience offering.”
The report also looked at the services that people felt that they would like more of on their high street. While people are generally happy with the number of convenience stores, pharmacies and pubs in their area, there is a real need for more restaurants, specialist food shops and banks, with betting shops and pawnbrokers polling as the least popular high street services.
When asked about which policies should be a priority in their area, 46% of consumers believe that reducing parking charges should be a priority in their area compared to just 28% of councillors. Overall, consumers also felt that councils were doing the worst job on transport and parking policy compared to other areas.
Lowman added: “The report has shown that there is a disconnect between the needs of consumers and the wants of councillors. The public are calling out for their high streets to be more accessible destinations through lower parking charges and investment in public transport, while councillors seem keen to increase their powers through control over technical things like use classes instead of putting much needed investment into their centres.”
The report comes as government is consulting on plans to give local councils and metro mayors the power to decide Sunday trading hours in their area. ACS has warned that this could give free reign to out of town shopping centres, lead to confusion among consumers and cause more harm than good on high streets.