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Swansea comes fourth in UK for its love of the high street

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Swansea came fourth in new UK rankings for the popularity of high street retail, scoring high on metrics such as footfall and high street spending.

Despite the decline of the British high street over recent years, almost 50% of UK consumers still prefer to shop in person. But where do consumers have the biggest appreciation for the high street in the UK? 

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A new study by SmallBusinessPrices.co.uk has revealed the most and least popular UK high streets, and the answers may surprise you. 

To reveal which UK cities are most inclined to shop in-person rather than online, Small Business Prices analysed the 30 most populous cities in the UK according to a range of metrics, including the level of high street spending, high street footfall and the number of retail addresses.

Liverpool ranks number one overall for high street shopping

Liverpool is the UK city still holding on to the high street the most, with residents doing more high street spending than anywhere else in the UK. It received a spending score of 134 (compared to a pre-lockdown baseline of 100) which was higher than any other city on the list, as well as beating most other cities when it comes to the number of vacant high street services (just 12%). 

Meanwhile, Coventry was revealed as the UK city with the least appreciation for the high street, followed by Reading and Birmingham. All three cities scored poorly for high street spending, which isn’t surprising considering they also saw some of the lowest high street footfall in the country. 

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RankCityVacant high street services (%)Level of high street spendingHigh street footfall (weekdays)High street footfall (weekends)Net change in number of shops 2022 (REGIONAL)Number of retail addresses on the high streetHigh street population as a share of total local authority population
1Liverpool12134106118-7126.633.5
2Plymouth19127176186-17722.711.1
3Southend-on-Sea25129127154-13630.038.5
4Swansea23131121138-10029.212.6
5Manchester1512088125-7130.525.8
6Newcastle upon Tyne20122120119-7133.119.3
7Norwich16117112142-13631.418.3
8Brighton10126101120-26026.934.8
9Bristol17117101118-17730.032.4
10Sheffield2813390116-17440.124.1

Plymouth placed second with the greatest high street footfall in the UK

Plymouth came in second place overall for a thriving high street, and also topped the list when it comes to high street footfall. This coastal city logged the highest footfall on both weekdays and weekends, with a score of 176 and 186 for each respectively (compared to a pre-lockdown baseline of 100).  

This was followed by Southend-on-Sea, which recorded the second highest footfall across the week, and Swansea with the third highest.

The North has experienced a net decline of -71 in the number of high street shops so far in 2022, which is less than anywhere else in the UK

Though all regions of the UK have experienced a decline in the number of high street shops in the first half of 2022, the North East and North West experienced the smallest decrease with a net change of -71. This was followed by Wales with -100, and the East Midlands with -136.

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On the other end of the spectrum, London experienced the biggest decrease in the number of high street shops with a net loss of -389. 

Stoke-on-Trent has the most retail outlets on the high street

Stoke-on-Trent in the West Midlands officially has the largest number of retail outlets on its high street at 53, beating London by a fairly wide margin despite being a much smaller city. 

London scored the second highest number of retail addresses (45), despite performing poorly in the overall ranking. The capital’s large number of shops is most likely down to it being the UK’s biggest city, and is unfortunately let down by a very low level of high street spending and footfall in proportion to its population size.

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