Published — 19 August, 2019

MP reveals result of biggest ever inquiry into the state of Harrogate town centre retail

Thousands of Harrogate residents have responded to an in-depth inquiry into the state of retail in the town circulated by local MP Andrew Jones.  Around 10,000 people, selected at random, were asked their views on all aspects of Harrogate’s retail offer and nearly 2,800 responded.

Mr Jones has published the results of the inquiry and will be taking forward discussions with key town centre groups such as the Harrogate Business Improvement District (BID), Harrogate Independents and the Harrogate District Chamber of Trade and Commerce.  Mr Jones will also be talking to Harrogate Borough Council and North Yorkshire County Council.

Some of the headline results are:

  • Fifty-five per cent of respondents are fairly or very satisfied with Harrogate town centre at the moment
  • The majority (60 per cent) of residents shop in Harrogate because it is close to home.
  • Forty-one per cent of respondent do half or more of their shopping online.
  • Most people use their cars to get in to Harrogate and two-thirds of them found it easy to find a parking space.
  • Over half of all respondents (52 per cent) thought that parking charges in Harrogate are just right or too cheap.
  • Nearly three-quarters of those who had a view about cycling facilities in the town centre felt they were poor or very poor.
  • When asked what one thing they would change about Harrogate the most popular choice was a wider range of shops and fewer empty shops.  Six per cent felt cheaper parking was a priority.
  • Only 10 per cent of respondents felt that Harrogate’s cleanliness was poor while 92 per cent felt that the appearance of local shops was average or better than average.
  • Almost 50 per cent of respondents backed more pedestrianisation in the town with 25 per cent opposed.  A quarter had not yet formed a view.
  • Over 60 per cent would recommend shopping in Harrogate to a friend.

“Nearly 2,800 responses is an enormous amount and statistically gives a fair representation of local peoples’ views on the state of retail in Harrogate.  There are some results that surprised me particularly around pedestrianisation and the availability and price of parking.

“The stand-out result though is surely the fact that over 40 per cent of people do half or more of their shopping online.  This is a huge challenge for traditional retail.

“Now I want to take forward the challenges raised by this survey and build on the many positive aspects raised by local people.  There are areas where I want to go back to respondents – particularly over cycling provision and the reasons so many people now prefer online to high street retail.

“The results show that the solution is not as simple as just doing one thing to fill empty shops and tempt people back in to the town centre.  It is a very complex picture and I will work with traders groups, landlords and local councils to address those factors.”

Andrew Jones, MP for Harrogate & Knaresborough

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