Research by the building society shows that more than half (58%) of the population will shop local in the coming weeks – but it is calling on brands to focus on town centres.
Nationwide and campaign group SaveTheHighStreet.org said more needs to done in order to turn around the fortunes of ailing high streets up and down the country.
Nationwide’s UK-wide poll of more than 2,000 consumers found local shopping centres are the place to be this festive season with nearly six in 10 (58%) people planning to visit their local high street to support the local community.
Two thirds (67%) said visiting the local high street and enjoying the Christmas festivities helped give them that “Christmassy”, nostalgic feeling with 54% preferring to shop in a physical store than online.
But it’s not just the older generation planning to stay local for their Christmas shopping this year. The research shows 71% of 25 to 34-year-olds are planning to visit the high street, proving the high street has appeal for everyone.
Stocking up on gifts and festive eats and sips comes top of the list of reasons people plan to visit their local high street. Eight in 10 (80%) people intend to visit their local high street up to 10 times for a range of reasons, including buying presents (47%), purchasing festive food and drink (38%), visiting local markets (35%), seeing the Christmas lights and decorations (33%), withdrawing cash (18%) or paying in cash or cheques (10%).
Nationwide said that despite this seasonal show of local festive support, the high street needs big “anchor” brands like Nationwide to commit to help smaller retailers to keep and create these valuable communities.
Nationwide and Savethehighstreet.org are urging businesses to commit to staying on the high street beyond the busy Christmas period to avoid many more falling into a dire state next year.
Nationwide commits to high street
Nationwide has recently renewed its promise not to leave any town or city in which it is based without a branch until at least 2026. It claims to now be the single biggest financial services brand on the high street and said footfall has increased, with some branches now back to pre-pandemic levels.
Mandy Beech, director of retail services at Nationwide, said: “People and communities still very much want to visit their local high street. But the challenge we face is that without a longer-term commitment from big brands, consumers will have less and less reason to visit them other than at Christmas.
“Our customers are telling us they still want branches and our Branch Promise ensures we are committing as far into the future as we can. The fact we are seeing our branches get busier shows that not only do people value them but that they are still very much using them.”
Alex Schlagman, founding partner of SaveTheHighStreet.org, said: “Successful high streets benefit everyone through the festive periods and beyond. Alongside a diverse and thriving independent sector, it’s important that high streets also have strong anchor brands.
“Most of the department stores that once anchored our high streets have now disappeared, leaving huge voids that need to be reimagined and repopulated with the offerings that people now want locally. This is a huge opportunity to change high streets for the better in 2024 and we are calling brands, both big and small, as well as anyone who cares about the future of our high streets, to join this movement.”