New research commissioned by Liverpool BID Company into the visitor experience of Liverpool city centre, shows a robust retail offering with over half of respondents indicating that shopping in Liverpool was better than what they had experienced in other cities (61%).
Despite the growing challenges facing high streets nationally, with rising competition from internet retailing and out of town retail parks killing off some well established brands, Liverpool’s diverse mix of high-end, value brands, independents and specialist shops proved to be among the most important factors when choosing Liverpool for a shopping trip (for more than 70% of respondents).
All aspects of shopping scored positively in the study, with approximately two thirds of those surveyed rating each with a “very good” score, with the “range of choice” and “range of good value” shops again scoring the highest. The view that Liverpool is “a good place to shop for quality brands” was agreed by 90% of respondents, followed by Liverpool being “a good place to shop for cheaper brands” agreed by 86%, while 70% of people thought that Liverpool is “good for independent and quirky shops” – a fact that will be celebrated during the BID’s Independents’ Week (July 1-7) and Celebrating Bold Street July 7.
When asked how much time respondents would typically spend in the city centre when visiting specifically for shopping, 58% of people said they spent half a day or more. Also notable is that the highest area of spending for day visitors is recorded in shopping (£45) with staying visitors estimating spending in shopping at £59 and a slightly higher amount (£61) on food and drink. Both sets of data illustrate the significance of shopping as part of the Liverpool experience.
Carried out by North West Research & Strategy (NWRS), the study focused on the motivations and reasons people visit Liverpool, the main influences, overall visitor satisfaction and expectations against actual visit experience, and spend. The new research involved face-to-face interviews with non-city-based, inbound visitors to Liverpool, and were conducted in key footfall locations, such as Bold Street, Church Street and Williamson Square. It is the intention of the BID to carry out this research annually moving forward.
Commenting on the conclusions, Bill Addy, chief executive of Liverpool BID Company, and chair of the Liverpool Visitor Economy Network (LVEN), said:
“What is evident from this study is that there are very high levels of satisfaction and enjoyment expressed by visitors to our city centre, which is great news. The particular praise being directed at the strength of Liverpool’s retail mix is encouraging considering the challenges that the high street faces nationwide. It is a must that Liverpool’s high street continues to reinvent itself and some of the recent openings show that we are on the right path, including the world’s biggest LUSH, Everyman cinema at Metquarter, the newly-opened Roxy Ball Room in Cavern Quarter and Lane7 at Clayton Square being recent examples.
“These results tell us a lot about where we are now and what we need to do to keep our city centre thriving. The findings also endorses much of the work the BID is already doing in this area – supporting the growth of the independents’ scene with initiatives such as Independents’ Week and Celebrating Bold Street, raising standards in customer service through the BID’s Mystery Shop Awards, and our work in providing additional cleansing and safety initiatives. It is also clear from the study that a friendly smile goes a very long way, with previous visits and word of mouth proving by far to be the most prevalent marketing influence for visitors to come here, 69% and 25% respectively.”
Looking ahead, chair of Retail & Leisure BID, and Metquarter centre manager, Jennina O’Neill, said:
“While we take these results with great encouragement we know that we cannot rest on our laurels. We will continue to adapt and provide dynamic solutions in order to face the ongoing challenges seen in the high streets across the country. Never has it been more vital that our high street is well-managed and promoted for the benefit of businesses, visitors and locals. To achieve this we will continue to work with our partners to provide additional services through the BID Safety Partnership, the BID Street Rangers and the Street Support Liverpool network among others, as well as raising customer service standards right across the BID network of levy paying businesses.”
The next date on the BID’s calendar is Celebrating Bold Street on Sunday, July 7 – a huge street party on this beloved street, which in the past has included a farmers’ market, art and crafts stalls, street entertainment and long-established restaurants such as Café Tabac, Maray, Maggie May’s, LEAF, Mowgli and Soul of Bold Street hitting the streets to serve up an array of tasty delights for visitors. The event will be the culmination of Independents’ Week (July 1-7), a week-long campaign to engage local independent businesses, employees and visitors in celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit of Liverpool’s growing independent business community.