BIGGER shops, restaurants and banks beat the marketplace as top attractions for high street goers – and yet an overwhelming majority of people still believe local trading is ‘crucial for the town’.

Hundreds of people said restaurant dining, sorting their finances, or a trip to the Eden Shopping Centre was their primary purpose for visiting High Wycombe – and yet despite many never using the market, 79 per cent still insisted it was “important” for the town.

The “key findings” are from a review of the market and high street, conducted by retail, market and development consultants, Quarterbridge.

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The survey, which polled 1,126 people in total, was conducted before the lockdown, between February and March this year.

Its purpose was to determine “opinions and usage of the street market and also how people use the wider town centre”.

It comes after months of debate amid councillors about how to improve the “dwindling” market.

The matter was discussed during a High Wycombe Town Committee meeting, on Tuesday, September 22.

Bucks Free Press:

Out of 1,122 people, 33 per cent said they never shop at the market and a further 20 per cent said they make a purchase there once a year, or less. Despite this, 79 per cent still said the market was an important asset.

Fresh produce and street food ranked top in market purchases from a poll of 1,117 people, scoring 401 and 285 respectively.

Bucks Free Press:

From 1,117 people, 261 said their main reason for visiting High Wycombe was access to larger stores in the Eden Centre. While 46 cited the market itself.

Other high-ranking reasons for coming into town included for work purposes, eating and drinking, and use of the bank or post office.

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When asked what other reasons people had for visiting the town centre, almost 600 participants out of 1,111 cited restaurants and bars, while 411 said the cinema, and 386 said independent shops. Some 265 cited the market.

Many said of the market they would like to see more events, speciality stalls and food fairs.

More than 860 people out of 1,108 prefer farmers markets, while 790 like Christmas markets, 752 enjoy stalls selling “locally made products”, and 684 favour food festivals.

Bucks Free Press:

A high number (88 per cent) said they would attend such markets, showing “there is an appetite for markets in High Wycombe, which is unfulfilled by the current offer”.

A high proportion also said High Wycombe suffered a “lack of promotion”.

Frequent market shoppers celebrated its “vibrancy”, “multicultural experience”, “friendly atmosphere”, and fruits and vegetables “sold at good price”.

While infrequent users requested more variety, “cafe culture”, and “markets, festivals, and events celebrating the community and bringing people together”.