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How Healthy are our High Streets?

With the closure of many major high street names through 2018 with the loss of over 40,000 jobs the importance of understanding how our high streets are performing has never been more important.  With the Chancellor announcing £1.5bn high street relief along with the digital services tax in this week’s budget, the daily reports of retailers closing and struggling and the launch of The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) report ‘Health on the High Street Running on Empty’ highlighting the UK’s healthiest and unhealthiest high streets research and data available from the CDRC is of particular value.

The CDRC has produced a series of indicators and maps that can help give a picture on how our high streets are doing starting by defining retail catchments and typologies; how many people are on our high streets at any time; looking at the impact of the internet and then examining the wider picture of how access to the facilities provided by our high streets can impact our own heath.

Retail Typologies

The RSPH report provides interesting insights into the evolution of British High streets and the impact they can have on health. Nevertheless, it covers only 70 of the largest high streets in the country and focuses on a small number of retail and service types around leisure, retail services and some convenience retail outlets.

Launched today our multidimensional typology of over 3000 retail centres groups all centres into a number of clusters based on a much wider range of characteristics. As such, it provides a more comprehensive platform for a cross-comparison of retail centres across various spatial scales. It uses metrics derived for both retail centres and catchment demographics which are captured by a number of domains including composition, function, form, diversity and economic health.

Such cross-comparison not only provides a better understanding of how the contemporary consumption spaces are evolving, but also offers substantial analytical leverage for investment.

For further information see Why some retail centres out perform others

For maps see https://maps.cdrc.ac.uk/#/geodemographics/retailtypology

For data see https://data.cdrc.ac.uk/dataset/historic-retail-centre-boundaries

Footfall Index

Working with the Local Data Company on the SmartStreetSensor project, CDRC researchers have access to data from around 900 footfall sensors located in retail centres around the UK.  From these data we can explore how busy our high streets are and how different events, such as the ‘Beast from the East’ and the summer heatwave impact footfall.  We have produced the CDRC-LDC footfall index looking at monthly footfall changes across the UK and the data are available at various levels of aggregation to researchers through the CDRC safeguarded service.

For CDRC-UCL footfall index https://data.cdrc.ac.uk/stories/united-kingdom-footfall-index

For CDRC Safeguarded footfall data and the CDRC Footfall Atlas see:



Access to Healthy Assets and Hazards

Focusing on purely the high street ignores the wider influences of our health in the communities and neighbourhoods outside of them. For example, the average individual is located 1.12km from their nearest pub, 1.21km to their nearest gambling outlet, 1.05km to their nearest GP. These are the equivalent of a few minutes drive time, or a 10 minute walk. These aggregate statistics also hide variations and inequalities in the types of environments people are exposed to. People in the most deprived neighbourhoods in Great Britain are twice as close to most types of unhealthy retail outlets, but also located nearer to the majority of health services.

The CDRC has produced a free resource called ‘Access to Healthy Assets and Hazards’ that maps out the accessibility to environmental features that influence our health.

For more information see ‘Why Great Britain’s rural areas may not be as healthy as we think’

For AHAH maps https://mapmaker.cdrc.ac.uk/#/access-healthy-assets-hazards

For AHAH data https://data.cdrc.ac.uk/dataset/access-healthy-assets-hazards-ahah

Internet User Classification 2018 and 2014

The CDRC’s Internet User Classification is a unique classification to determine how people living in Great Britain interact with the Internet. Offering 10 unique classes of Internet Use and Engagement a picture can be drawn as to how likely the population may be to shop online rather than in their local high street.  Influenced by demographic factors such as population age or ethnicity as well as locational factors such as mobile broadband speeds this classification gives a unique insight into how likely a particular high street may be impacted by online shopping.

For more information see The Great British Geography of Internet Use and Engagement

For IUC 2018 map  https://mapmaker.cdrc.ac.uk/#/internet-user-classification

For IUC 2018 data https://data.cdrc.ac.uk/dataset/internet-user-classification

For further details on any of the featured research please contact the CDRC at info@cdrc.ac.uk