Henley-on-Thames has been named the 2nd best performing shopping location in Britain according to new research by retail property consultancy, Harper Dennis Hobbs (HDH).
The research ranked a list of 1,000 retail centres against a criteria that included vacancy rates, weighted spend, suitability of local consumers’ demands, and the change in residents’ movements due to Covid-19.
Henley climbed 26 places from 2019 study and were beaten by Beaconsfield in the top spot. Marlow came in 26th, moving up 10 places from 2019. Market towns and commuter towns topped the list outperforming city centre destinations as consumers’ shopping habits have become very localised due to the pandemic.
Andy Metherell, Head of retail consultancy at HDH, explained: “Our analysis is unique as we use variables that both consumers and retailers consider when assessing shopping locations to rank the top 1,000 retail centres in Great Britain. This Vitality Ranking looks very different from previous years as the ‘retail health’ of high streets across the country has seen contrasting fortunes since the start of the pandemic.
“The most vital retail centres currently provide services that are essential to people’s lives, such as grocers and pharmacies. These essential retailers have been able to trade throughout the strictest lockdowns, and consumers have not been willing or able to travel far to visit these stores. Shopping patterns have therefore changed significantly since the start of the pandemic, and consumers’ local high streets are benefitting at the expense of major destinations.”
Helen Barnett, Henley Town Council’s Town & Community Manager said, “Henley-on-Thames has most defiantly outperformed all local city centre destinations. As HDH clearly state consumers’ shopping habits have become very localised due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Henley traders have been exceptionally good at capitalising on this and thinking outside of the box. The residents of Henley have also rallied to support the local traders and our market in a phenomenal way which has really benefitted the town. Shopping habits have changed because they have had too.
Long may the support continue for our wonderful town.
There are also retailers who have showed exceptional sparks of brilliance and entrepreneurial flare which have helped the town. We have had an influx of new businesses in between and even during lock down. New owners to the town who have in some cases run other businesses and are bringing different skill sets to our high street. Many of these are businesses that are more caring towards the environment, provide merchandise that is sustainably sourced or better still that is produced locally. They are more aware of the need for an online presence and happy to use social media.
Henley benefits from its beautiful town, walks by the river and the traders who are still able to open trading well and safely.”
Laurence Morris who runs Laurence Menswear in Duke Street said, “I think it’s great that Henley is recognised in this way and its testament to all the hardworking indies and stores who give such great service to their customers, who have supported us brilliantly through this last year. It’s not often we have something to shout about but this is something we should feel very proud about.”