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HEADCOUNTS to gauge FOOTFALL past our shops.

I took 5 minute counts on the hour, every hour, on a Friday and Saturday in early May.  I chose May because it is a very average time for retailing.  Children are at school so not many people are away on holiday.  Weekenders tend to stay put because it is revision time for most under 20s.  I chose dry warm days for maximum output.  I counted children as well as adults (because they are effectively consumers) passing both ways on both sides of the street.

According to American research shoppers can be categorised into 5 types:

  1. Basic
  2. Apathetic
  3. Destination
  4. Enthusiasts
  5. Serious

WHITE HART LANE

Footfall is low and steady throughout the day with a rise on Friday evening.  The Saturday average (16) is only 4 up from the Friday average (12).   The trade directories from the past show WHL served the local community for daily goods and it was probably much busier.  But over the years demand has changed and WHL’s mix of shops has adapted to these changes.  For whilst the actual footfall is low; the cafés, hairdressers, cleaners etc were clearly doing a good trade.  WHL is catering for the “destination” shopper.  They aim for one shop in particular.  They do not tend to be browsing. The cat is taken to the Vet, a small family party arrives to have lunch at Annie’s, a pet dog is taken into the Waggery.  Indeed the window displays demonstrate this.  They are not elaborate but inside mouth watering temptations greet the eye.

The evening rise in footfall on Friday can be explained by commuters and a number of the convenience shops stay open to catch this trade.

NORTH BARNES.

Footfall here is higher but remarkably steady, except for a rise to almost double in the evening.  And like WHL there is little difference between Friday (average 25) and Saturday (average 28).  Here the bus stops affect the head counts and the shopper can be categorised as “basic”.  They are picking up items they need immediately (newspaper, cigarettes) or items they have forgotten (milk, wine).  Cleary the rush hours increase footfall and almost all of the shops stay open, literally all hours, to catch that trade.  There is an element of destination shopping in the cafés, restaurants, hairdressers and the Post Office because it offers a wide range of services like car tax.

HIGH STREET AND STATION ROAD


The peaks are in the morning.  This is partly related to peoples’ shopping habits.  Retirees seem to like to shop early, from 8.00 onwards.  The peaks at 10.a.m. noon and 3.00.p.m. are related to mothers, either after dropping off or collecting children from nursery school or school.  There was a 60% increase in shoppers between Friday and Saturday.  The Farmers’ market may help to explain why footfall is higher here on Saturday mornings than anywhere else in Barnes.  If that is the case, the results of my earlier shopper questionnaire at the market suggested they are not buying!  Some shoppers can be defined as “basic”, those going into One Stop and the Parish bakery for example.  Others are destination shoppers, heading straight for Les Petits, the Kitchen Shop, Presents and our Jewellery shops for a celebration.  The food and fashion shops would suggest some shoppers are “serious”, seeking special foods and brand names.

Station Road has the highest footfall of all on Saturday morning (average 70).  This is clearly related to the farmers market, the occasional bric a bac market and the retail activities at Rose House.  So this is the spot for advertising and pushing promotions!

CHURCH ROAD (COMMON) and (OLYMPIC STUDIO)


The results are very similar for these two sections of Church Road.   The average for Friday was 30 and 32 respectively.  On Saturday it was 38 for both.    Saturday is only slightly busier than Friday.  On the Friday both sections show the same peaks and troughs relating to the school day.  The type of shopper is different though.  Church Road (Common) attracts the “basic” shopper type going to Londis, Two Peas in a Pod or Village Klean.  But, because they are local people they often meet acquaintances or friends and then become enthusiasts, stopping for a coffee or to look in the fashion shops.

Some of the footfall at the Church Road (Olympic studio) end can be explained by the Red Lion bus stops and the activities (especially on Saturday mornings) at Barn Elms and St Paul’s.  Having dropped off children for sport there is then a relaxing period in which to shop.  This might be browsing but I have a feeling it is still destination shopping, where the customer knows what they want and visits the one shop to get it.

TO CONCLUDE

Footfall is usually a good indicator of locational advantage in larger shopping centres, so much so that planners plant “anchor stores” (such as M and S) in corners or at the end of long linear pathways in order to attract shoppers and thereby increase footfall past smaller shops.

Barnes however bucks the trend.  Its shoppers have come to rely on the shops they know.   Whether it be for convenience goods and services or specialist items, they target their destination shop and go directly to it.  The problem is the local shopper is a fair weather friend – literally and metaphorically.  Throughout January shops might as well have closed because of the weather, August is dead, Easter is quiet and numbers are totally unpredictable.  As a consumer, for example, I have found my favourite restaurant might be unable to accommodate me on one Saturday and empty the next.

We desperately need a higher footfall.  These were comparisons all taken at the busiest places for 5 minutes.

Barnes St Margarets Whitton Richmond
Wed 7th April 36 65 74 91
Fri 9th April 42 96 120
Sat 10th April 66 132 132

Marketing Barnes as a whole may attract more visitors which may attract more browsers.  To do this we need better signage, having a tourist information centre and filling empty shops to widen choices.

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Many residents of Barnes have invested an enormous amount of money in their property.  If too many shops close, there will be a domino effect and the shopping areas will become zones of neglect and deprivation.  The heart of Barnes could suffer urban blight and as a result their investment will be affected.  This is not an exaggeration.  There are areas where this has already happened in the UK and not always predictably, for Chester is one unexpected victim.

Moreover most Barnes residents like to visit their shops, for sociable reasons and to feel that they have a part to play in the community. 

Our small shops offer things that the bigger chains cannot.  These are:

  1. Convenience – most residents can walk to and around the shops and enjoy the experience.
  2. Shopping in a calm and delightfully pleasant environment.  The crowds are never too great and we can pause by the pond or the river, which must make our shopping experience rather unique. 
  3. Freedom from being identified as “the (faceless) market”.  There is no piped muzak.  We are free of “in your face” promotions.  We don’t feel we are being manipulated.  We feel conversations with our retailers are honest and genuine and not rote learned and robotic.
  4. Unique goods – many of our traders know our tastes and work hard at visiting fairs to purchase items within our price range and to our liking.  They also stock brand names that they know we like to buy.
  5. Personal service.  Our retailers spend time with their customers.  Many are well known to them.  They go out of their way to be helpful.
  6. Their product knowledge is superb and we can call upon that with trust.
  7. Many of Barnes shops have built a strong sense of customer loyalty.

 

Typical reviews taken from the web:

I feel so lucky to live so close to such a great shop. Their selection is always great and their service always comes with a smile and a helpful hint or two.

Lovely local shop. Old-fashioned but with fresh produce every day. Can arrange special delivery to your home.

This shop is the comfortably the best of its kind in London, providing quality service with a world class selection of the product from the traditional to the obscure.   They have everything.   More than happy to recommend.  Definitely worth visiting.   A must for tourists and locals alike.

 

In 2009 the Which? Holiday guide cited Barnes as one of the top ten places to visit in the UK.  This is how they described us:

Nestling in a loop of the Thames, the affluent riverside suburb of Barnes is a favourite place to visit. Pretty little country lanes, cosy olde-worlde pubs and peaceful bank-side walks let you forget that you’re actually still in London. (The 15 minute journey from Waterloo or the bus ride from Hammersmith is proof!) There’s also the 120 acres of Barnes Common, a beautiful nature reserve that makes you feel a million miles away from the capital, (in fact you’re around 6 miles south-west of Charing Cross).

 

However Barnes has been teetering on the edge of decline, as shown by its 25 long standing empty shops.  Many other businesses are working to tight margins.  Recently a few green shoots have emerged to give us optimism.   Interest and activity can be seen, at last in some of the vacant shops and it remains to be seen if the overall number falls this year.  Market forces are giving potential retailers good bargaining positions and landlords are having to reconsider their strategies. 

However we cannot be complacent.  It would be good if we could gentrify Barnes so that it was more secure as the hub of our community.  There are many ways in which we can try:

  1. Research, to check hunches and understand changes in shopping in Barnes.
  2. Encourage landlords to fill empty shops.
  3. Attempt to discuss ways forward with Howard de Walden Estates, Northcote Road Trading Group and Mary Portas, if possible.
  4. Promote Barnes with our web site, links with other web sites, promotional materials – Barnes bag, etc.
  5. Loyalty card, wedge card or similar.
  6. Banners, planting to improve the retail appearance.
  7. Events.
  8. Barnes friendly map for visitors to pick up and walk around the shops.
  9. Barnes historic map, for the same.
  10. Council to review parking restrictions.
  11. Sign posting to barnes village.
  12. Barnes residents to be encouraged to shop locally more.
  13. Attempt to get publicity.

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Local shops emerged in Victorian times and burgeoned from Edwardian times onwards.  The shop keeper rented or owned his shop, stock was kept at the back and the family lived upstairs.  We refer to “the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker” to epitomise this era of shops.  Local residents shopped daily for food and milk (because there was no refrigeration) and would turn to a local shop to have clothes, shoes or household items repaired.

This image survived, more or less intact, until the war but since then the retail landscape has been changing and that change has become ever more rapid as time has gone on.  

 

 

CHANGES THROUGH TIME

Numbers of shops: We have too many shops.  Economists noticed the decline of the High Street back in the 1990s (e.g. NEF:”Ghost Town Britain II” 1993).  We do not have the need for repair shops and supermarkets have removed the need for separate grocers, greengrocers, butchers etc.

Competition:  Today there are too many alternatives to local shopping besides supermarkets – the internet, television, mail order and vast new retail shopping areas such as Westfields and even bigger – the out of town ones like Lakeside and Bluewater.

In a report by Experian, Barnes is shown to be the internet “hotspot”  of Britain, with residents spending an average of £150 per year, per head on goods.  This amount is predicted by the Verdict Research group to rise to over £1000 on average by 2011.

Retail giants:  Some small independents grew into retailing empires (Charles Harrod opened in Knightsbridge in 1849 in a one roomed shop with just two assistants and a messenger boy).  These are our department stores, chains and franchises, all of which can offer discounts and promotions, pay higher wages, advertise and carry out market research and marketing before opening new branches.  Today’s small independents are at a huge disadvantage here, unable to access data for research and finding their purchase prices are undercut.

Keeping up:  The independents are also at a disadvantage when trying to keep up with change.  Often they cannot afford to attend courses or belong to trading associations nor can they cannot afford the time to attend.

Classification of retailers:  Not all retailers (especially in a local shopping area) are optimisers looking for maximum profit.  Some are satisficers, attempting to meet criteria for adequacy.  They are less likely to wish to fight all these adversities.

CHANGES IN THE MARKET

Confusing opening times: Before the war women did not tend to work.  They visited the shops daily for perishables, met their friends and kept up with local issues.  Shops closed on Wednesday afternoons.  Today, local shops are in confusion.  Whole families are away from the home all week – at nurseries, school, and at work.  Consequently the footfall in the High Street is pitifully low during the week (retirees and Mums of small children mainly), whilst it rises in the early morning, early evening and on weekends.  Shops are now opening at different hours to catch the market, leaving the consumer totally confused as to what the opening hours actually are and leaving some frustrated at having made a wasted journey.

Also local retailers work very long hours, often without an assistant so they might close at random times for lunch, or to go to market or because it is raining and near the end of the day.  Understandable as this is, it only further frustrates the local shopper.

Parking: Before the war the housewife had time on her hands.  Today time is precious so people want to use the car to shop locally.  Conflicts between shoppers, businesses and commuters (and councils seeing an opportunity to raise money) have led to draconian parking regulations which either frighten off the consumer or cause them to give up and drive on.

Low footfall: The consequence of parking regulations, irregular hours of opening, lack of time, inability to organise spectacular promotions or events, all lead to the footfall being so low as to verge on the dangerous.

CHANGES IN THE ECONOMY

Spending in a recession: Throughout most of the post war period, the standard of living has constantly increased (even after Harold Macmillan so famously said “You’ve never had it so good” in 1957) which has sustained an excess of shops.  We have had more disposable income to spend on consumer items, extras and luxuries.  Now we are in recession, the consequences are obvious.

Holidays and bad weather: We also have longer holidays with the result that many areas are drained entirely of shoppers in July and August, and over Easter, when our local consumer is shopping in elsewhere in the UK or on the continent.  Bad weather also frightens off the local shopper who is not sheltered under the protective roof of a precinct.  Many shops closed through much of January 2010 because of snow and a rainy Saturday can be seen to have a dire effect on local shoppers.

High prices: The recession has had the obvious consequences of reducing spending.  In a recent residents’ questionnaire reference was frequently made to the fact that some local shops out-price themselves, assuming the wealthy local market will pay up.    

Not enough tenants for shops: The recession has also made potential shop keepers wary.  This is a “no risk” environment and agents complain of numerous deals being broken at the last minute because the potential tenant gets cold feet.  There are just not enough people willing to risk investing their money in retailing, as there are shops at the moment.  Logically market forces should lead to a massive reduction in rents but that does not always happen.. (see below)

 

LANDLORDS AND TENANTS

 High rents: In Barnes some rents are deemed to be too high.  The residents are assumed to be wealthy because of the high price of property but in actual fact many have relatively little disposable income because they have high mortgages, choose to privately educate their children or are retired.  Moreover footfall is low compared to other similar local shopping areas.  Since rates are linked to rents, they are too high also.

Company landlords: Shops are usually rented.  The owner is often a property company, a pension find or similar which will own swathes of shops and other commercial properties.  The properties make up a portfolio which is set at a certain amount based on the ability to let.  The portfolio can be used as collateral or used in City trading.  Any reduction in the rent of one shop devalues the whole portfolio.  So grand landlords such as these prefer to keep shops empty (and pay council tax) rather than fill them at market prices. 

No change: The William Pears group owns a number of Barnes shops and their web site states: “The group’s commercial properties are considered a core holding and are rarely traded” so the situation is unlikely to change.

Domino effect: Also other tenants will hear about rent reductions and at the next review demand rent reductions too.  As far as the landlord is concerned lowering a rent opens up a Pandora’s box!

Gentrification: Barnes has three or four Company landlords who are therefore unlikely to have a special interest in revitalising the local area.  In the case of Marylebone High Street there was one landlord (Howard de Walden estates) who took responsibility and it worked.  Northcote Road gentrified due to a progressive business community and a very supportive council.

On-going leases: Some shops have leases still running so the landlord will not be aggressively trying to let the premises because he is obtaining rent anyway.

Complex ownership: Sometimes land ownership has become excessively complex over the years.  One Barnes’ tenant occupies land and property owned by 20 different agents!

Dodgy deals: Tesco offers us an illustration of the principle of “landbanking” – holding ransom strips to prevent rivals from getting a foothold” and ‘trampling’ over planning law (Observer 14 Jan 2007).  Until the weakly regulated market is tightened, other companies can do this legally, although there is no evidence that this is affecting Barnes at the moment.

Secrecy: There are differences in the market between shops and houses in.  One of these is the need for secrecy.  For example, if a business is struggling, the landlord cannot look for another tenant because if word gets out, the business will spiral into decline.  This is why it is always difficult to find out what is happening in the High Street.

Short term lets: There have been one or two “pop up” shops (very short lets) in Barnes – a temporary gallery, a Christmas tree shop and so on, which have been successful.  But from the point of view of longer lets (say 18 month leases only) the tenant’s initial costs (shop refurbishment and furnishing) would probably outweigh the return.  The landlord, meanwhile may lose a more permanent tenant.

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In order to distribute these questionnaires I chose roads randomly and houses by systematic sampling methods.  I distributed 250 questionnaires and 56 were returned (22%).  This represented 170 residents.

DEMOGRAPHY:

In my sample there were 29 families (varying in size from 1 to 4 children!), 21 married couples without children and 6 singletons.  The largest age group was the 40-50s but all were represented in the sample almost evenly (0-10 = 13%, 11-20 = 17%, 21-30 = 9%, 31-40 = 13%, 41-50 = 18%, 51-60 = 13%, 60+ = 17%).  The census put the average age as 38  in Barnes and 30 in Mortlake in 2001, but that data is a bit dated now.

Most residents are working but there are many studying, including adults.

JOINING IN:

The married couples without children are the most devoted joiners of clubs and societies.  They averaged 2+ per couple.  The families also averaged 2 each whereas singletons averaged only 1.  Also 2/3 of the married couples were members of the BCA and half of them were Wetlands centre members.  One might have expected the families to be more likely to be members but they numbered 1/3 Wetlands and 1/6 BCA.  Almost all singletons were BCA members but none were Wetlands members.

What do people join?

  • BCA 37%
  • Wetlands centre 28%
  • Sports clubs 14%
  • Barnes Literary Society 10%
  • Friends of Barnes Common 3%
  • Barnes Music Society 2%
  • And others such as the 1st Barnes Brownies, The BMHS, the WEA, various churches and so on.

 

ATTENDING LOCAL SCHOOLS

This is surprisingly low.  Of the 49 young people only 10 attended local schools.  5 were at the Harrodian, 2 at St Pauls and one at each of St Osmond’s, Colet Court and Barnes Primary.  8 more attended local nursery schools, with Barnes Montessori being the most popular. However many admitted to attending schools in neighbouring districts – Putney High, East Sheen Primary, Godolphin, the Unicorn and Latimer were mentioned.  From our point of view we possibly lose potential shoppers this way. 

HOBBIES

Popularity by category is most easily shown in a table:

SPORTS % MUSIC % FOOD % HOME % FITNESS % OTHER %
Football 21 Concerts 28 Eating out 42 Reading 32 Gym 33 Walking 42
Rugby 21 Opera 18 Cooking 23 Watching TV 29 Swimming 33 Drama

Theatre

Ballet

21
Skiing 21 Playing 15 Food shopping 35 Computer 20 Jogging 20 Gardening 16
Cricket 11 Gigs 14     Listening 19 Dancing 14 Painting

Museums

Galleries

painting

21
Horse riding 7 Jazz 13                
Tennis 7 Choir 12                
Cycling 7                    
Golf/Athletics 5                    

 

The 10 most popular hobbies overall are as follows:

  1. Eating out
  2. Reading
  3. Watching TV
  4. Food shopping
  5. Gym
  6. Swimming
  7. Computer
  8. Listening
  9. Concerts
  10. Cooking

 

SHOPPING IN BARNES

63% of the sample shopped in Barnes 3 x per week.

25% shopped once a week.

7% shopped once a month.

5% rarely used Barnes for shopping.

These are pleasing results but I suspect the loyalty of these customers is reflected in the fact that they returned their questionnaires!

REASONS WHY SOME LIKED SHOPPING IN BARNES

  • 23% Friendly shopkeepers offering personal service.
  • 21% supporting the community
  • 20% convenient for specific purchases
  • 14% opportunity to bump into acquaintances
  • 14% meeting friends in cafes and restaurants
  • 7% window shopping
  • Other reasons were given as village atmosphere, tranquil, near home, excellent for convenience goods and services, has everything I need, excellent food shops and market.

 

REASONS WHY SOME DISLIKED SHOPPING IN BARNES:

  • I do all my shopping in a larger centre (around a supermarket)
  • Barnes doesn’t sell what I want.
  • Barnes prices are too high.
  • Too many traffic wardens

 

WHERE DID THEY SHOP?

  • 45% shopped in Church Road
  • 36% in the High Street
  • 12% in White Hart Lane
  • 7% in Castelnau parade.
  •  

HOW DID THEY USUALLY TRAVEL TO THE SHOPS?

  • 73% walked (and liked the fact they could walk to their local shops)
  • 13% came by car
  • 11% cycled
  • 3% came by bus.

 

WHICH IS THE FAVOURITE DAY FORSHOPPING?

  • Saturday and then Friday.  (Interestingly Sunday got only one vote.)

 

WHICH IS THE LEAST FAVOURITE DAY FOR SHOPPING?

  • Monday and Sunday jointly equal!

 

FOOD FADS?

The question was “Do you or your family make a point of buying:

  • Organic foods?             40% said they did.
  • Fair trade Products?    40% answered yes.
  • Vegetarian cuisine?       10% answered yes.
  • Vegan?                               0
  • Other?                 Some make a point of looking especially for good quality foods in our specialist shops.

 

WHICH ARE OUR MOST FREQUENTLY VISITED SHOPS? (5 = FREQUENT, I = NEVER)

 

4    Food and drink

4    Newsagent

4    Chemist

4-   Pub/Cafe/Restaurant

3    Gifts, jewellery, flowers.

3    Books

3    Dry cleaner

3-   Hair /beautician.

2    Home/garden

2    Clothes

2-   Gym

2-   DVD

2-   Optician

1     Holiday booking.

What would you like to see fill our empty shops?  (This type of information might influence landlords and agents).  These are in rank order of popularity.

 

There were many, many suggestions but the main ones were:

  1. An all embracing children’s’ shop that did toys, shoes, clothes (like Gap) and party items.
  2. A sports shop with walking /outdoor gear and bike repair.
  3. A delicatessen in the High Street or Church Road.
  4. A garden shop/nursery for plants.
  5. A DIY/ ironmongers with electrical goods.
  6. A bistro/bar especially for a decent snack/sandwich lunch. (Mini’s in Sheen was cited).
  7. A music shop with instrument hire, sheet music, CDs, and DVDs (ABC Kew was cited).
  8. A children’s play shop/cafe with arts, crafts etc.  (Gambados was cited).
  9. A stationers/ art materials shop.  (We have many school children and students).

10.  Gift shop (to replace Bradford’s).  Mia Wood in Kew was cited.

11.  Health food shop.

12.  Books, second hand books, children’s books.

13.  A Greengrocers in the High Street.

14.  A small supermarket (One Stop was disliked and those who suggested this believed it would increase footfall and help Barnes shops).

15.  An ethnic restaurant (French, Indonesian, Middle eastern, Italian a like Carluccio’s, Indian like Zing in Hammersmith, tapas.)  Also suggested was a steak house and a fish restaurant.

There were also cries for a decent bakery, modern stylish clothes shops for men (casual), women and/or teenagers (like Jack Wills, Quick Silver, Alley Cat (Sheen), shoes, bags and accessories, an internet cafe and office support shop,  a wine specialist and a choc shop like Hope and Greenwood.

There was a unanimous NO to any more estate agents and some felt we have enough cafes.

Should we make Barnes a specialist shopping area (like Hay on Wye) and if so promoting what?

 

There were some good ideas.

  • Healthy Living – healthy fresh food combined with making use of the river, the Common, the Wetlands centre and leafy open spaces here for sports such as walking, cycling, running, rowing, sailing.  Link this with our new sports/outdoor shop (see above) and organic food products, also “grow your own”, ecobabies, and we could have a festival!! 
  • Children centred.
  • Food festival (Marylebone High Street was cited).
  • Art/antiques.
  • Homes/interiors (Tobias/the Dining Room Shop and Taylor Mar were cited).
  • Boutiques.
  • Village shopping.
  • Gifts.

There was a feeling among some that this would not be good for Barnes because we would lose variety.

COMMUNICATION: KEEPING YOU IN THE LOOP.

 

100% said they would like to be made aware of Barnes events and activities!  This is good news indeed.

  • 25% like to read about these in the BCA magazine “Prospect”.
  • 23% would like to be contacted by e-mail (and have left their address so I shall set up a regular contact system).
  • 16% said posters in shop windows worked for them (and urged us to use cafes too – although cafe chains will not always allow it).
  • 16% said via a Barnes local website. (We are launching this in June and it is beautiful!!)
  • 12% said they read pamphlets through the door.
  • 3% use face book.
  • 3% said via their child’s school.
  • 2% said by post.

 

THE BCA

  • 90% were aware of the Barnes community Association (which is just as well since they pay me to work to promote Barnes shops!)
  • Only 10% were unaware.

 

THE WETLANDS CENTRE

 

88% had visited.

12% had not….yet!

AND FINALLY…YOUR SAY…

The questionnaire finished with an open ended question which asked for any comments relating to Barnes shops and shopping centre which might help us to improve it and make it the true heart of our community.  Suggestions were as follows:

 

Opening Hours: It is suggested that these are not uniform and not suited to those who work during the day. Many requests have come for late night opening on one or two days a week ‘til say 7p.m.  The butcher and fishmonger were given as examples.  Shoppers would like to use them but are forced to use Sainsbury’s by the time they get home from work.  Another group of mothers complained about late morning opening.  Shops are shut when they want to shop just after dropping off at nursery school or school.  Others want to buy a card or gift on the way to work for an office colleague.

Empty shops: Many people commented on the depressing aspect of these and asked if, at least in the short term, they couldn’t be cleaned and mail cleared.  Short leases should be offered to help small shops start up.  Twilight shops are very successful in the USA.

It was felt that in the future there needs to be a balance between chains and independents to keep Barnes shops healthy.  Many requested a small supermarket to draw in footfall.  Also maybe Blacks outdoor and/or Evans cycles.  It is recognised that chains are more recession proof and therefore a necessity.  They also maintain high standards of premises and can sustain the high rates.   Gordons and Bradfords are sorely missed as examples of successful former independents in Barnes.  They were well stocked and prices were affordable.  Marlow, Wimbledon village and Northcote Road were given as models to follow but even Kew has a more tempting mix.

Existing shops:  There were complaints about One Stop – the appearance, the lack of stock, the poor management.  Also it seems the Parish Bakery is not satisfying local taste.  There is not a wide enough range of shops at the moment. And some are just too pricey (clothes and shoe shops were frequently cited in particular).  Many people would like to do ALL their shopping in Barnes but cannot.  A children’s shoe shop, for example, is missing.  So is a large green grocer (which is why we flock to the Farmers’ market).  One mother would like to have wider door access for buggies.  This may not be possible as shop frontages cannot be tampered with in conservation areas which affects Barnes.  Personal service was given as Barnes’ strength and Seals and Natsons were quoted by more than one resident as illustrations of help offered that is beyond the call of duty.  It was often said that our local shops need to do more promotions and advertising through letter boxes.

Parking:  There is no doubt that parking restrictions and manic traffic wardens frighten many potential shoppers away.  We do not have a car park to serve our shops.  There were many complaints about this issue.  One resident gave the example of wine.  If he walks he will buy a bottle, if he parks near the shop he will buy a case.  Another argued that with a parking permit we should have free parking anywhere in Barnes for an hour at least.

Extras:  For a budding entrepreneur there is a shortage of nursery school facilities in Barnes especially for under twos and we lose parent patronage when they are forced to go out of district.  It was suggested that we have a residents’ picnic and shops have stalls to promote their wares at it.  Another suggestion was to have an art/ antiques fair. 

It would also be lovely if the OSO could have seating on the Green in the summer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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MARKET RESEARCH IN BARNES

I recently carried out 3 types of questionnaire in Barnes (given to shops, shoppers and residents) and carried out some head counts.  Not all of the field work has been completed yet but I will publish the results on this blog as I receive them and finish with an overall summary.

THE RETAILERS’ QUESTIONNAIRE

I did a 50% sample and 34% of the sample (of 90) were returned.

Character:

From this sample, 74% were independents, 19% were chains, there was one franchise and one family business with many branches.  I think that reflects the character of Barnes’ shops and it is this balance that most people would like to retain.

Barnes’ businesses tend to stay for a long time, which is great for establishing a village community feel to the area.  30% of the shops had been here for over 20 years and the average stay was 13 years.

Employees:

Is there an untapped market here in the form of employees?  On average shops employ 3 full timers and about half the sample employ 2 part timers as well.  But there are exceptions (I did not distort data by including these in the averages).  One business employs 45 full timers and a different business employs 24 part timers.  Most of these employees live outside Barnes and if they were encouraged to do their shopping in Barnes they could add (on the basis of these figures) 538 extra customers.

Turnover throughout the year:

The highest turnover months were in Autumn and Winter, with Nov/Dec (43%) predictably the highest and Sept/Oct (24%) next.  Late Spring also is a good time for most (11% cited May).

The lowest turnover is hotly agreed to be August (48%) followed by Jan/Feb (35%).

Business’s markets:

59% of businesses keep client lists and 63% keep in regular contact with customers but only 9% have used their lists as a source of information to help their business.

I suspect all shops have a good idea of their customer base however without the need for research.  Their long residency means they know their customers’ tastes intuitively and indeed, they know most of their customers!

Some were happy to share knowledge in this area.  Most of our shoppers are young professionals, single or married and with children in the 35-45 age group.  (The census has the average age in Barnes as 38 and 30 in the two wards).  One shop noted that in the time that they have been trading here there has been a change in the demographic in that the older, loyal, reliable client has been replaced by younger families with less commitment to the village because they are likely to be more mobile in their home buying.  Also they are internet shoppers.  Most shops would say their clients are almost 100%  local but  some however have customers from outside Barnes, as far away as Kingston, Wimbledon and Chelsea and there are a number of tourists in the summer.  Similarly some claim their clients are 9o% female, others mixed.  Clearly, distance travelled and sex ratio depends on the product or service being offered.

Barnes Community Association

Whilst only 32% of the sample were members of the BCA, 68% said they read Prospect magazine (which pleased me because I write something about the shops in every edition!) and 67% felt that the BCA helped retailers in some way.  Only one business did not know of the BCA or Prospect.

Can the BCA do more for retailers?

This was an open ended question.  Some felt the Fair and late night at Christmas did not help traders much, but most had great enthusiasm, especially for the late night shopping and wanted more events including charity events.  There was a complaint that the BCA’s activities are concentrated around the High Street only and not dispersed throughout Barnes.  One suggestion was to create a professional network of all Barnes businesses so that those with shop frontages could benefit professional services and vice versa.  It was also said that the BCA can act as a pressure group on the local authority and that Prospect magazine should have a supplement entirely devoted to shops, carrying articles ranging from news, events, charity initiatives and also promotions, deals and offers.

Landlords

One in the sample owned his/her own shop.  The % is small in Barnes – probably about 7%.  Not many completed the questions about landlords.  Of those that did, two thirds thought the rents were not higher than they would be in a similar region in suburbia and most did not have any problems with landlords.

Other Comments

Parking is still a contentious issue.  Rent increases should be based on RPI (Retail Price Index).  Business rates are far too high.  Graffiti is a problem but the council are very efficient at removing it.

Suggestions for marketing individual shops or Barnes as a whole.

  • We should all shop in each others businesses (and there is a case for a traders’ loyalty card).
  • A winter version of Barnes Fair.
  • More events including charity events.
  • Parking – suggestions – too few bays, get rid of parking restrictions in August, free parking for an hour, do away with residents parking, better long saty parking.
  • Vacant shops should be dealt with.  They have an adverse affect upon the rest.  Rents should reflect the current market – they are too high.  There were suggestions for new shops – deli, quick lunch cafe, M and S, post office, more useful shops.
  • Castelnau pub is having a negative affect upon the area.
  • Social events for local businesses.
  • Liaising with the press for more publicity

And on a positive note:

  • White Hart Lane businesses feel pleased with the new shops and the good feel about the area.

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Have you checked out your reviews on line recently? If  you haven’t already done it, try Googling your shop –  you may find some quite interesting reviews. I’ve had a look at reviews for a few shops –  some are fantastic and some not so good. Even more surprising is that many of the shops have no reviews at all. Often review sites like this are an opportunity for people to vent – so reviews tend to be more critical than praising by their very nature. But even if the reviewers’ comments are unjustified they are sitting out there in cyberspace to be read and noted by your prospective customers. It’s just a thought but it would be fantastic if when your customers are happy with your service if you could ask them to review your shop online. The key sites to look at are qype.co.uk, allinlondon.co.uk and trustedplaces.com.

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Farmer’s Market

RESEARCH RELATED TO THE BARNES FARMERS’ MARKET

Last July, with the help of a student from St Mary’s college, I conducted a survey inside the farmer’s market.  The questionnaire had 9 questions and I interviewed 50 people using random sampling.  The results of this are as follows:

1.       Where do you live?

60% came from Barnes.

14% came from Putney (their Farmers’ market is on Friday).

The rest came from Sheen, Hammersmith, Fulham, Wandsworth and Harrow with 2 visitors from Staffs and Warwick.

2.       How did you travel here today?

54% walked.

30% came by car.

12% cycled and the rest by bus, train and scooter.  It surprising that so few came by bus but perhaps the lack of clear signposting at Hammersmith is the cause of this.

3.       If you came by car, how easy was it to park?

Of those who came by car, 80% said it was easy to park!  Do they know something we don’t?!

4.       How often do you come to the Farmers’ market?

50% came every week and 26% came fortnightly.

5.       From which stalls have you made purchases?

20% bought fruit and vegetables.  This is hardly surprising as Barnes has only one outlet (Two Peas in a Pod).   15% meat.   13% pastries.  11% bread.   10% olives.   8% cheese.

6% fish.   6% meat pies.   6% soft drinks   5% miscellaneous items.

6.       Would you like to see any new produce on sale here?

Flowers and plants were suggested most often with delicatessen running second.  Many people feel that central Barnes could do with a deli like Gusto and Relish in White hart lane and almost all of the houses have large gardens, so a garden centre would be terrific.  Agents of empty shops please note.

7.       Why do you choose to buy in the Farmers’ market?

26% said because it’s fresh.

22% said it was because it is good quality

20% said they wanted to support farmers (!)

13% said because they liked to buy organic.

Others thought it was fun, and only one said they thought it was cheap.

8.       Will you be visiting any shops in Barnes also today?

44% sadly said no.

33% said yes and had a particular shop in mind to visit.

23% said yes and were, just for browsing.

9.       Will you be visiting a cafe, pub or restaurant also while you’re here?

70% said Non.  Oh dear.

So to summarise Barnes Farmers’ market has a group of loyal, local followers who come regularly but unfortunately do not make a morning or a day of it.  Perhaps that is something we can work on.

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Questions Questions

MARKET RESEARCH

They say knowledge is power.  If you are a prospective retailer in Barnes you’ll want to know what sort of shops Barnes residents want to shop in. If you already have a shop you may want to know whether your customers want you to change your opening hours.  Although there’s a surprising amount of data available on Barnes – ranging from the census to expensive reports that big retail chains can buy to find out how much Barnes residents typically earn – the real nitty gritty information isn’t available. That’s why I’m currently distributing questionnaires to randomly selected shopkeepers and residents.  I will also be approaching shoppers on Saturday mornings with a questionnaire (so please don’t run away!)

I hope to have done my number-crunching by the beginning of April and will share the information with you as soon as I have it. It’s going to make fascinating reading.

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