The Top 10 Reasons to Visit the High Street in 2019

When people visit shopping centres or malls, or retail destinations like high streets and retail parks, it’s easy to imagine that the big attraction is always the biggest name. But using Huq’s Geo-data products, retailers, real-estate owners and operators can finally lift the lid on what really drives people to visit – and the answers might surprise you. Having an accurate view of visitor demand can help real-estate professionals determine the types of businesses they need to attract and look after in order to develop the most successful retail opportunity.

Map of All UK OAS High-street Zones by Dominant Activity

To answer that question, we used the CDRC’s 2011 Output Area Classifications (‘OAC’) dataset to analyse the retail business types visited by our panelists in each area to determine their primary motivation for shopping there. In the results of this analysis, we list each OAS zone along with the dominant business type visited, together with an associated ‘activity share’ metric.

An example is Shepherd’s Bush, London – home to Westfield – whose primary activity, ie. reason for visiting, also happens to be visiting ‘Shopping Centres’. This zone scores an activity share of 55.79%, which translates as ‘visiting a Shopping Mall made up 55.79% of visits to places within the Shepherd’s Bush OAC polygon zone’ over the period (2019). Use the interactive map below to explore the data yourself, or download it using the link below.


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As you’ll see from the map above, Food features heavily – and while that may be factually accurate – it doesn’t help us to differentiate between each OAC zone and to really find the things that make each of these destinations special in their own right.

Top 10 UK high street activities by activity share


|     Category     | 2019 Share |
| Food             | 38.28%     |
| Restaurant       | 19.16%     |
| Supermarket      | 19.86%     |
| Bar              | 16.18%     |
| Bank             | 15.22%     |
| Cafe             | 15.84%     |
| DIY Shop         | 10.92%     |
| Electronics Shop | 10.54%     |
| Homeware         | 9.97%      |
| Shopping Centre  | 9.92%      |

To help answer to that, we have used the outputs from the preceding step to build an index metric that brings out the nuance in how each destination differs. First, we find the mean average ‘activity share’ for each activity type nationally, and secondly measure the difference between that value and the ‘activity share’ for all activities observed within each zone. Finally we sort the values from highest to least and return the first. The resulting values speak to the activities that really define a destination. In this output we call this metric the ‘activity index’.

A good example of this is Bedford Hill, Balham, located in South-West London. While the top activity share is – like many other places – ‘food’, the activity index returns ‘nightclub’ as it’s highest indexing value. If you’ve ever had the fortune to visit that corner of Balham on a weekend you’ll sympathise with that result.

Huq’s geo-data products can help real-estate owners and operators detect what really draws visitors to the country’s retail destinations, and can help retailers better understand where they should establish themselves for best results. For detail on how our data can help you gain valuable insights into what inspires your customers to visit the high street, get in touch with us today.

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