We like it local, and newsagents top the list

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The traditional newsagent is the most valued local business in the South East, new research from Santander Business Banking1 reveals.

The study, which asked people about the businesses in their area, found that for nearly half (44%) of people, the newsagent is the most valued local amenity, closely followed by the pub (43%) and the take-away (37%).

The research also reveals that the local business landscape is evolving to meet the changing requirements of communities in the South East.

Traditional amenities, such as the bakers, butchers and grocers, are increasingly being joined by new ones: nearly three quarters of people (70%) now live within walking distance of a coffee shop, more than anywhere else in the UK. Additionally, 57% are near a gym, while more than half (54%) say they have a nail bar on their doorstep.

Despite concerns over the health of independent local businesses in the UK, the findings reveal that consumers in the South East say they are spending an average of £942 per week in their local stores and businesses – above the national average of £88 a week – which would make the local business community in the South East worth around £58.7 billion a year.

Traditional businesses continue to attract high numbers of people, with nearly half of those polled visiting their local grocery store (49%) or newsagent (43%) at least once a week; however, a new breed of store is also attracting high numbers, with nearly a quarter of those living in the South East visiting a pound shop at least once a week.

There is a significant appetite for more local amenities, with more than two thirds (71%) of people in the South East identifying at least one additional business they would like to see open in their area. Top of this list is the pound shop, according to around one in seven (16%) of the people questioned.

Other amenities in strong demand are bookshops (15%), even though more people in the South East live closer to a bookshop than in any other region (44%). More than one-in-ten people would like to be near a bakery (16%) and have convenient access to a local garden centre (11%).

Robin Foale of Santander said: “In the current economic climate, confidence among local businesses owners is still quite low. However, this research highlights how local businesses remain a relevant and integral part of any community.

“People in the South East clearly value their local amenities, spending an average of £94 per week within a 15 minute walk of their house. There are still a huge number of opportunities for business owners and we are committed to supporting them as they look to develop and expand their companies.”