How to evolve the high street

Last month we asked 300,000 people for feedback on the role their high street plays, the challenges high streets are facing and their outlook.

In the first ever survey of its kind, members of the public in the #WDYT (What do you think?) community were approached using Maybe* technology through a series of Facebook posts and chatbots. We collected responses under the hashtag #myhighstreetmatters to collate the unique and valuable evidence on what the people who actually use high streets really want.

This campaign has ensured that thousands of people’s opinions will help shape the future of the UK’s high streets.

The work was undertaken in response to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee’s (HCLG) call for evidence to its high streets inquiry. We are the only organisation to have consulted the public and ensured their evidence was gathered in response to all HCLG’s questions.

The #WDYT campaign is all about connecting people to their local high streets, so sounding a call for evidence to thousands of people whose voices may have otherwise gone unheard made absolute sense to me.

There have been plenty of people giving their individual opinions on high streets but this consultation provides the only well rounded view of the desired future of our high streets, supported by the opinions of members of the public; the people that actually determine high streets’ success or failure.

All campaign responses have been submitted to the HCLG ensuring the public’s opinions are included. The evidence and the recommendations that flow from it are particularly pertinent ahead of the publication of Grimsey Review 2.

The public’s message was clear; people want vibrant, diverse high streets with lower business rates, better parking, more options for independent shops and more specific high street brands.

Results from #WDYT high street survey

The top line figures were:

  • 78% worry about their high street

  • 70% worry about shops closing

  • 34% worry about the variety of shops

  • 68% want new clothes stores

  • 41% want more and better shops

  • 29% want improved / free parking

  • 24% want lower business rates

  • 16% want a return to smaller, local shops

  • 11% want less plastic usage / more recycling stations

  • 11% want more youth activities & community / cultural events

  • Furthermore, 45% of respondents shop on their high street at least once a week

  • More than 40% of people never shop online.


I’ll be publishing my recommendations for change in a future post. In the meantime I’d love to know WDYT – What do you think?


Improve your digital influence, footfall, and sales with #WDYT

The #WDYT  campaign helps equip towns, cities and retailers with the tools, advice and data they need to reach, attract and engage with their increasingly digital-savvy visitors and customers.