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Nearly nine-in-ten Scots say they must shop local to ensure high streets thrive

Increasing numbers of Scots say they realise the power of shopping locally and the value of spending in their local high street to ensure businesses and communities thrive. 

A new poll demonstrates an encouraging hardening of support for the future of town centres, along with growing recognition of the importance of choosing local to protect jobs, improving lives and tackling the climate emergency.

Half of those questioned said they are prioritising using shops on their local high street rather than travelling further afield, with more than 90% appreciating the risks to local businesses if they were not to.

The findings come as work continues to create a new future for Scotland’s towns – with projects and initiatives taking place across the country.

The poll of almost 1,400 Scottish adults, commissioned by Scotland Loves Local, found that:

  • 85% agree it’s vital that people in their community support businesses on the local high street. 46% strongly agreed with the statement – an increase of 5% compared to 2021.
  • 93% fear there’s a strong chance that many local high street businesses will go under if people do not support them.
  • More than two-thirds (73%) believe choosing local reduces unnecessary journeys and helps tackle the climate crisis.
  • Three-quarters (77%) agree that choosing local keeps money in their local area for longer, improving quality of work and life
  • 91% recognise that choosing local supports local jobs and employment opportunities.

The findings have been released as Scotland Loves Local Week (August 28th – September 3rd) gets underway, with various events and activities taking place across the country to rally support and highlight transformational work taking place in communities.

Leading retail academic Professor Leigh Sparks is Chair of Scotland’s Towns Partnership (STP), the organisation which leads Scotland Loves Local.

Responding to the findings, the University of Stirling’s Deputy Principal and Professor of Retail Studies, said: “It’s heartening to see the growing recognition of the need to support local businesses across Scotland. It’s essential, though, that this is matched by action, benefiting our economy and the environment.

“Local businesses, and the people who own and work in them, are at the heart of our communities.

“We recognise the challenges they face as the retail industry evolves. But there are also huge opportunities, embracing the support highlighted by our research. To help that, we need to make it simpler to reach high streets and town centres, make them more attractive and encourage new enterprise.

“Success and sustainability will come from making our town centres great places in which to live, work, visit and shop’.

Professor Leigh Sparks, Chair of STP

Scotland Loves Local, which champions the importance of grassroots action to boost the national economy, is supported by the Scottish Government.

The polling was carried out for Scotland Loves Local by the Diffley Partnership.

Mhairi McFarlane, Senior Researcher at Diffley Partnership, said: “Despite overwhelming agreement from Scots about the importance of high streets, 93% of us are concerned that many local businesses will disappear if we don’t support them.

“This is a stark reminder that our support can be essential in offering a lifeline that could make or break the future of high streets across Scotland. This should be a clear signal that action is needed to ensure they can not only survive but can thrive in future.”

Scotland Loves Local is the drive for people to build stronger, more sustainable futures for their community by supporting the businesses in their area, potentially injecting millions of pounds into regional economies. 

STP Interim Chief Officer Kimberley Guthrie added: “Our high streets are not just about collections of buildings. They’re about people – and people who work incredibly hard so that they can be there for us.

“The challenges they have faced in recent years have been relentless in many ways. But they continue to be there for us – adapting and evolving. We, though, must continue to be there for them if we are to ensure they can thrive, protecting jobs and giving our communities a platform from which they can flourish, allowing our local economies to grow.”

Find out more about Scotland Loves Local Week by clicking here.