High Streets Initiative · 26 April 2017

Limited product selection remains biggest drawback to shopping locally

Product selection
A limited product selection was cited by half of British shoppers as the biggest downside to shopping locally

Half of UK consumers believe limited product selection is the single biggest drawback to shopping with a local business, according to new research.

A nationwide survey, by small business lender Liberis, asked consumers what factors determined where they shopped, and results revealed a number of downsides to spending locally.

Product selection was cited more frequently than any other factor as the biggest influence on shopping choices, receiving 28 per cent of the vote. Choice was followed by customer service and price, considered by 27 per cent of respondents as the most important factors.

When it came to shopping at large businesses, 41 per cent put better product offering as the reason.

While three in ten consumers said it was the unique product selection that attracted them to independent stores, they reported a tendency for small businesses to have higher average prices. Some 48 per cent of respondents admitted they generally found small businesses to be more expensive.

Commenting on the findings, Liberis CEO Rob Straathof emphasised the strong contribution of local high streets to the wider economy, and suggested greater choice relied on a small business presence.

“A more varied marketplace for consumers is dependent on the UK’s small business sector, having another major chain retailer doesn’t increase choice, in fact it reduces the choice,” he said in a statement.

Despite the question marks over choice and product selection, the findings did uncover a number of positive for small retailers looking to find a competitive edge against larger rivals.

Just three per cent of consumers said being able to buy household brands determined their purchasing habits, and eight in ten shoppers wanted to spend more locally. Only 7.7 per cent believed low awareness of the brands on offer to be a downside of shopping locally.

The findings suggested that British shoppers enjoy the unique product selection found with local businesses – and are willing to spend more – but they want greater choice.

To access the 50 per cent put off by a limited product selection, the answer for smaller retailers could be expanding on what they already do well – continue to provide interesting products and services not found at large businesses, but grow the existing range.

We want to hear your views on the challenges facing UK high street retailers, so please take two minutes to complete our High Streets Initiative survey and make a difference.

Read more from our recently launched High Streets Initiative: 

This article is part of a wider campaign called the High Streets Initiative, a new section of Business Advice championing independent and small retailers by identifying the issues that put Britain’s high streets under pressure. Visit our High Streets Initiative section to find out more.

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Simon Caldwell is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and has previously worked as a content editor in local government and the ecommerce industry.


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