Shoppers stay loyal to local stores

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Brits are most loyal to hairdressers, newsagents and butchers - and many feel that by shopping with local retailers they are supporting their community as a whole according to a recent survey.

The high street survey from AXA Business Insurance found that over 60 per cent of the nation’s shoppers have long running relationships with their local stores but are more fickle when it comes to supermarket shopping.

A quarter of customers said they like knowing their neighbourhood venders by name and a fifth enjoy being able to order ‘the usual’ when shopping locally. A further 18 per cent are so committed to their favourite high street haunts that they see the staff as friends.

Yet while a personal connection and superior service have a big impact on buying behaviour, it seems shoppers also value smaller stores for the benefits they bring to the local area.

Almost 73 per cent feel that local shops give an area more character and 17 per cent believe that they are ‘prettier’ on the high street.

More than half of shoppers feel that by supporting their local retailers they are supporting the whole community and 51 percent say they’d rather hand over cash to a local business than a big brand.

Darrell Sansom, managing director at AXA Business Insurance, said: “The struggle that small business owners face when up against big chains is well documented in the media. Yet our poll showed that despite continuous change and a fiercely competitive market place, personal connections and a sense of community still influence the way we shop.

“Consumers want to support their local stores for a wide range of reasons, and whether they’re on the high street or online, when independent retailers emotionally engage with customers and effectively meet their wants and needs, they are able to build loyal relationships that go on for decades.”

Thirty per cent of shoppers enjoy a long standing connection with their favourite local business - and while the average relationship lasts a solid 10 years, many small outlets supply goods and services to their local area for generations. Indeed one in every seven people say they stick with the same stores their parents went to and 54 per cent prefer a family run business.

AXA’s survey found that hairdressers have the most loyal customers, with 55 per cent of people saying they are committed to their usual stylist and almost half (45 per cent) saying their hairdresser knows details of their private lives – including family gossip, health issues and whether they’re trying for a baby.

In contrast, 88 per cent of shoppers confessed they aren’t always loyal to the big supermarkets and 51 per cent of consumers find it false if a supermarket cashier enquires about their day.

64 per cent of supermarket shoppers said a better deal would pull them elsewhere, while a quarter admitted they would switch stores if a different chain was built closer to where they live or work.

And with 27 per cent of Brits saying they feel the retail scene in their nearest city is ‘commercial and samey’ many admit a sense of nostalgia for the high street of yesteryear. Browsing vinyl is a fondly remembered pastime – while greengrocers, fishmongers and butchers are missed by many when they disappear.

THE BUSINESSES BRITS STICK WITH

1. Hairdresser

2. Newsagent

3. Butcher

4. Baker

5. Greengrocer

6. Florist

7. Shoe shop/Cobbler

8. Clothes store

9. Fishmonger

10. Book shop

Love local? Here are AXA’s top five reasons to shop locally. www.axa.co.uk/insurance/business/shop-and-retail/five-reasons-to-shop-locally