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Nearly 8 in 10 North East shoppers sad if their high street was to go

  • Accenture survey finds that 76% in the North East would feel sad if their local high street was no longer an option for shopping
  • Over 1 in 5 (23%) said that they would always want to shop on their local high street
  • However, almost half (49%) said it’s no longer relevant and needs to change, with over 2 in 5 (42%) warning they may no longer shop on the high street in 10 years’ time

The vast majority of North East shoppers would be sad to see the death of the UK high street, according to new research from Accenture.

The survey of over 2,000 UK adults showed that, of those in the North East who had visited their local high street in the last year, 8 in 10 (76%) would feel sad if their local high street was no longer an option for shopping.

Over 1 in 5 (23%) said they will always want to shop on their local high street, and almost half of consumers (48%) said they are unlikely to stop visiting their high street in the next year.

However, around half of respondents (55%) in the region feel that the high street doesn’t have everything that they need to do their weekly shop. They also agreed that the high street was no longer relevant and needs to change (49%). If a store on the high street which was part of respondents’ regular shopping routine were to close, just under half (45%) said that they would shop online instead, compared to over 2 in 5 who would either drive to find the same shop somewhere else (44%) or switch to another high street brand (41%).

This concern over the high street’s relevance could explain why 3 in 10 (30%) warned they may stop shopping there in the next 5 years, increasing to over 2 in 5 (42%) in the next 10 years.

Food shopping and general retail keep the high street alive

When those in the North East were asked what they use their high street for, food shopping was by far the most popular option (78%), followed by general retail e.g. department stores, charity shops and pet stores etc. (53%).

Over 2 in 5 (42%) said they would like to see more food shops on their high street, while the majority said that they would like to see more high street banks and post offices (61%), clothes shops (53%) and general retail stores (52%). Health and beauty shops (18%) and beauty services (18%) were the least popular outlets to see more of.

Kelly Askew, Retail Strategy & Consulting Lead, Accenture: “The future of the high street has been in question in recent years, but for now, stores are clearly still in fashion. Many retailers are still placing their bets on bricks-and-mortar, but there are warnings that the high street needs a reinvention if it’s to survive.

“At a time when shoppers are being even more selective about where and how they spend their cash, the future of the UK high street lies in its relevance and ability to meet local needs. For businesses, this means a focus on affordability, customer experience, and tailoring their offer to local demand. Technologies play an important role here – whether that’s using data analytics to determine the store layout and what they stock, or investing in AI and automation to enhance the store experience whilst enabling staff to be more efficient.”

Reliability and affordability important for consumers

In a separate analysis, Accenture’s 2023 Consumer Pulse Survey, which included 2,500 Brits, found that shopping in-store was, on average, the most popular channel across the 11 shopping categories, with 50% of UK respondents citing this as the channel they use. This was followed by shopping on retailer website (28%), e-commerce sites (22%), and home delivery services (20%).

The top three reasons respondents gave for choosing to shop in person were that they could get a better sense of how good a product was (31%), they could get out of the house and interact with staff (21%), and that they felt it was quicker to pop in-store than shop online (21%).

When asked why they kept going back to their favourite brands or retailers, respondents said this was due to:

  • Brands or retailers consistently providing them with the same quality product, service, and experience they were used to (34%)
  • Acknowledging their loyalty with rewards, discounts, and exclusive offers (31%)
  • Maintaining good product or service availability and reliability (31%)
  • Retailers providing trusted refunds and returns (21%)


UK Consumer Survey: All figures relating to consumer sentiment, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2,099 adults, of whom 76 were in the North East and had visited their local high street in the last year. Fieldwork was undertaken between 26th – 27th April 2023. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

Accenture’s 2023 Consumer Pulse: A parallel survey of 2,500 UK adults was conducted by Accenture as part of a global survey analysing the shopping habits and attitudes of consumers. This survey was conducted between 2nd – 22nd March 2023.

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