By Daniel Hunter

At a time when retail experts are calling for the nation to better support the Great British High Street, research from Groupon UK reveals that shoppers have started to listen but feel there’s still room for improvement.

Questioning 1,000 shoppers nationwide revealed that almost a third of Brits hit their local high street once a week (28%), with another third (40%) using it a few times a month. What’s more, independent businesses have benefitted from recent news such as the horse meat scandal, with one in ten (13%) now choosing to use them over chains.

The majority of shoppers (87%) think that improvements should be made to their local high street, 40% of which say there is ‘a lot which needs to be improved’. Older generations are more critical — this jumps to 51% when looking at those over 55 years old, compared to a quarter of 18-24 year olds saying the same. Half (48%) of people say improvements could be achieved with a better range of independent businesses and retailers to choose from, whilst 40% want to see regeneration of the whole area.

Shoppers also said they wanted to see high street businesses offering more discounts and loyalty schemes (79%), efficient (79%) and personalised (61%) customer service; and to be able to order in specific items that might not immediately be in stock (68%).

Over half (58%) admit that longer opening hours on weekdays would also be more likely to tempt them in. Perhaps not surprisingly, women are 10% more interested in a good deal than men; whilst men are more enthusiastic about meeting the owner of a shop, restaurant or business with a quarter saying it would encourage them to be more loyal.

When it comes to what consumers are using independent shops and businesses for, over half say they prefer to use them for their grocery shopping (57%), a quick bite to eat (56%), as well as those all-important hair and beauty treatments (52%). Better marketing could give these businesses a boost though as half of people surveyed (50%) say they’re only aware of new shops, restaurants or deals if they spot them as they walk around their local area.

“It’s heartening to know that British shoppers still have a connection with their local high street and use independent shops and businesses for their everyday needs," Roy Blanga, Managing Director, Groupon UK commented.

"However, to keep them coming back, continued investment is needed to modernise these areas and ensure they’re appealing to shoppers. At the same time, business owners should also be thinking about how to make their offer stand out both on and offline to deliver better value and customer service. This two-pronged approach is vital if our high streets are to flourish.”

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