The leaderboard produced by Skillsmart Retail, the Sector Skills Council for retail, identifies the top ten towns and cities for independent retailers based on the results of its Location Model research. As part of this research, independent retailers are mystery shopped and scored on a range of areas including product knowledge, customer service and store interior.
Wales emerges as the undisputed UK hotspot for independents. Llanelli tops the list with an average score of 94.8%, followed by Carmarthen (94.7%), Swansea (92.5%) and Ammanford (91.5%). In fifth place is Newport (90.8%) which holds the position jointly with Cambridge and Rugeley in Staffordshire.
For each location the scores are collated and an average percentage is compared against the 90 towns and cities across the UK which have been assessed through the Location Model since 2005.
Individual scores from the participating businesses, show two Welsh retailers gaining 100% in their mystery shops, joining only five other businesses (out of 5,000 nationally) to ever achieve full marks. Health & Herbs in Swansea and Martin Rees Jeweller in Wrexham both proved they gave an outstanding shopping experience.
Mrs Ruth Rees from Martin Rees Jeweller said: “We are really proud of our results and to get confirmation that how we run the business is right. We love jewellery and gemstones and get a lot of pleasure out of running the business. It is nice to know that this passion comes across to our customers.”
The Welsh Location Models were funded by the Welsh Assembly Government’s Sector Priorities Fund Pilot (SPFP) programme, which also receives additional support from the European Social Fund (ESF).
Anne Seaman, the Chief Executive for Skillsmart Retail, said: “Wales’ leaders and independent retailers should be hugely proud of themselves for these amazing results. Wales clearly has some very talented local retailers who are focused on providing excellent customer experiences and help create some vibrant shopping destinations.
“Our Location Model research is a great way to find out how a town or city compares to others across the UK. The research outlines recommendations to improve a town or city centre and help it become more successful and sustainable. The mystery shopping exercise allows independent retailers a chance to see what they are doing right and what extra skills they need to improve their businesses.”
The all-Welsh top five was established this month when the results for Swansea’s Location Model were released. Swansea took third place after 37 independent shops in the city were mystery shopped and excelled in customer service.
Russell Greenslade, Chief Executive from Swansea BID said: “These are great results for Swansea and for Wales. Swansea has shown it is not only one of the country’s largest shopping destination, but one with many great independent retailers.
“I would particularly like to congratulate and thank our local retailers, who produced outstanding mystery shopping results. Local businesses are vital to maintaining the city’s identity, and as the only BID in Wales, we want to support these retailers and help them flourish, especially in these difficult times.”