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Community Barometer Reveals What People Want in their Local Area

By Chris Dawson August 5, 2019 - 10:28 am

New research, the Community Barometer, published today by the Association of Convenience Stores has found that UK consumers are crying out for more specialist food shops and banks in their local area. There are plenty of complaints that online shopping is killing the High Street, but not so much about what would make consumers shop in their local area. As one might expect, Business Rates are a big part of the complaints from interest parties on the High Street.

The ACS Community Barometer looks at which services the public want (and don’t want) around them, as well as how essential those services are, the impact they have on reducing loneliness, and whether those services overall have a positive impact on where they live.

Top of the list of services that people want more of are specialist food shops (1st) and banks (2nd). With specialist food shops top of the list of desirable shops, it’s no surprise that that is exactly the area that Amazon have invested in with Whole Foods. Seems that the online retailer has jumped straight into the segment of the market consumers most want.

Rising rents, the cost of business rates, and cuts in interchange fees for ATMs have led to widespread closures of bank branches amidst a continued decline of dedicated butchers, bakeries and other food stores. As these specialist services decline, convenience stores have been increasingly looking to invest to make them a part of their offer to customers.

“Convenience stores have spent £633m over the last year investing in their businesses, with much of that work going toward bringing more and more services into their stores, from Post Office counters, to banking services, pharmacy counters and even bakeries and butchers within the shop. However, retailers are faced with the prospect of higher business rates whenever they improve their stores which can have a significant impact. Business rates need to incentivise investment, otherwise communities could face losing essential local services altogether.”
– James Lowman, chief executive,Association of Convenience Stores

Services that UK consumers want more of

  1. Specialist food shops
  2. Banks
  3. Non food stores
  4. Post Offices
  5. Restaurants
  6. Pharmacies
  7. Convenience stores
  8. Petrol stations
  9. Coffee shops / cafes
  10. Pubs/ bars

Services that UK consumers want less

  1. Betting shops
  2. Pawnbrokers
  3. Fast food shops / takeaways
  4. Charity shops

The Community Barometer also found that the number one most essential service, and the service that people believe has the most positive impact on their local area is the Post Office, followed by convenience stores (2nd) and coffee shops/cafes (3rd). Elsewhere in the research, coffee shops, pubs and convenience stores were seen as the three services that play the most important role in reducing loneliness for people in a local area due to the social nature of those businesses.

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