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Britons lose pride in ‘shabby’ town centres

Two in ten shoppers (22%) have already turned their backs on their local High Street while just 6% of people remain loyal to theirs.

Poor choice of shops (41%), high prices (29%) and shabbiness (12%) are driving people away from their local High Street.

The high cost of parking a car is an issue for almost a quarter (22%) while 25% lament the fact that the recession has closed shops down.

Boarded up and vacant shops are the biggest culprit for making Britain’s High Streets look shabby (69%).

People blame high rents (66%), high rates (60%) and the fact that small businesses can’t compete with the big retailers (64%) for the rash of vacant shops scarring High Streets up and down the country.

Despite this, almost a quarter of people (24%) would like to see their local town centre get a new lease of life through the arrival of a big name department store, such as John Lewis or House of Fraser.

At the same time, almost two in ten (19%) would like to see new independent retailers such as florists, greengrocers, bakers and butchers, livening up their main shopping street. Just over one in ten (14%) would like to see a farmers’ market set up in their town centre.

Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com, said: "Britain’s High Streets should be the lifeblood of the local community – instead they are dying on their feet. High rents, rates and the recession have forced many retailers off the High Street altogether, while preventing new independents or start-ups from taking their place. Consumers often blame the larger retailers for the lack of choice on our High Streets, but the reality is that very often it is only the draw of a larger store that is keeping some town centres alive.

"The good thing is that 97% of consumers care about their local town centre – they want to see it thrive and they would like to be able to spend their money there. We are living in financially difficult times so anything that can relieve this pressure, such as free car parking for shoppers, will go down well. Yes this would cost local councils money, but we would all see the reward in a boost to civic and community pride."

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