More than half of Scots always support shops on their local high street, a new study has found.

And there is growing recognition of the fact that people need to get behind their town centres if businesses in them are to survive the consequences of Covid-19 and thrive beyond the pandemic.


The findings have emerged from a poll of more than 1,000 adults commissioned by Scotland’s Towns Partnership for the Scotland Loves Local campaign. It found that:

  • 56% of people will always shop on their local high street rather than going further afield, whenever they can do so.
  • 93% of those surveyed believe there is a strong chance that many businesses on the local high street will go bust if people don’t support them.
  • Almost 90% say it’s vital that people in their community support businesses on their local high streets.

The results have been welcomed as a signal of the strong support for Scotland’s high streets – highlighting the importance of people thinking local first and using businesses in their community, in line with all Scottish Government public health guidance.

Phil Prentice, Chief Officer of Scotland’s Towns Partnership, said: “The positive power of people supporting their high street should not be underestimated. 

“Every pound spent locally flips six times in the area’s economy, so the knock-on effect is significant for us all. Thinking local first protects jobs, is better for the environment and helps make our communities better places to live.

“Our polling highlights how the community pride and the spirit of localism we’ve seen throughout the pandemic has strengthened support for town centres. As we all live more of our lives locally we must embrace this to ensure that stronger, more sustainable town centres are the beating heart of a fairer, better Scotland.”

Scotland Loves Local, a major multimedia campaign spearheaded by Scotland’s Towns Partnership with the support of the Scottish Government, is the national drive for people to support their local economies and fuel the nation’s financial fightback from Covid-19 from its grassroots. 

Scotland’s Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said: “There has never been a more important time to consider supporting local businesses whether by visiting your local town centre or sampling what local digital businesses have to offer.

“It is great news that the majority of Scots are keen to do just that and we know money spent locally is more likely to stay in the local economy.

“That’s at the core of the Scotland Loves Local campaign, which is run by Scotland’s Towns Partnership with the full support of the Scottish Government.

“We all have a part to play in Scotland’s economic recovery and can do so, whilst we look out for one another and follow the FACTS guidance.”

Scotland Loves Local is supported by influential organisations including the Federation of Small Businesses in Scotland (FSB).

Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scotland policy chair, said: “Successful independent shops have long been synonymous with successful local places. That’s why nine in 10 people in Scotland believe that their community should support retailers and other businesses in their town or on the high street. They know that, if they want to live in a strong, successful community, they need their local firms to thrive.  

“But everyone understands that times are tough for many local operators. That’s why we need decision-makers and the general public to provide custom and support for these vital enterprises.

“So, it doesn’t matter if you’re nipping out for the rolls and papers, looking for that special present, or just getting something in for the family tea, we’d urge people in Scotland to buy local wherever possible.”

The polling was carried out by Mark Diffley Consultancy and Research (MDCR), whose Director Mark Diffley said: “There is clearly a significant amount of goodwill among the public to support local businesses and traders; almost nine in 10 Scots (87%) believe it is vital that communities support their local high streets while over half (56%) say that they will always shop locally when they can, rather than going further afield, suggesting a willingness by many to match that support with action.

“Alongside that goodwill, there is a growing recognition that, without community support, many traders on local high streets may go out of business with 93% agreeing with that assertion. Furthermore, 60% of Scots think that the future of businesses in their area depend on the extent to which local people support them, a sentiment shared by the majority from across all parts of the country and all social groups.

“As uncertainty with Covid-19 continues and the winter approaches, the public recognise the importance of supporting local businesses and stands ready to offer that backing.”

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