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New in-depth survey of town's shopping needs launched

Tuesday, 22nd November 2011.

Whether you shop in Haverhill regularly, or avoid it like the plague, a new survey wants you to say what you think of the town as a 'shopping experience'.

A leading retail authority is inviting shoppers in Haverhill to share their wish list for the town in an important survey being conducted between Thursday, November 24, and Friday, December 2.

Professor Andrew Fearne of Kent Business School, who is an expert in developing customer loyalty through effective marketing, merchandising and business planning, is helping to create a model for improving Haverhill’s retail offer.

The project, called Destination Haverhill, relies on finding out what shoppers want.

The link to Professor Fearne was created through the town's Tesco store, as Tesco have worked with him before.

A survey along similar lines was carried out a year ago, and completed by nearly 1,000 people, but the new one is much more complex and specific and has been drawn up using the results of the first one, and is intended to give the experts much more detailed data.

There are 15 premises around the town, and others in the surrounding villages, where you can collect and questionnaire, fill it in and post it into a ballot-style box.

Alternatively you can fill it out on line by going to www.stedmundsbury.gov.uk/destinationhaverhill

There is a cash prize of £100 for one lucky questionnaire drawn out of the total sent in.

There will also be focus groups and activities aimed at establishing a flow of information to retailers.

Phase two of the year-long project will establish where the gaps are, either in the town's retail offer or in the service provided by current retailers, with master-classes being made available to them on specific issues.

Phase three will provide a fast-track to Haverhill High Street for any retailers interested in locating here.

When it is over, the project will leave St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Haverhill Town Council with a model for them to continue working with in developing the town centre.

A spokesman for St Edmundsbury said it was not realistic to expect that the poutcome was going to be a Marks and Spencer in town, because both topwn and catchment area were just too small.

Instead, it aimed to build footfall by creating Haverhill as a 'shopping destination'. The creation of a healthy independent and specialist sector in the town would make it more attractive to some big retailers who were looking at smaller formats.

Cllr Anne Gower, the borough's portfolio holder for Haverhill, said: "Haverhill is lacking as a shopping experience. We want to make it a pleasant, comfortable and enjoyable experience, which some residents would say it isn't at the moment."

Professor Fearne said: “The survey is crucial in understanding what potential shoppers want from Haverhill shops.

"We have a head start with valuable findings from research undertaken last year, but this is not a repeat, it breaks new ground. So I hope that as many people as possible complete the questionnaire."

Cllr Gower said: “We did research last year which showed us that Haverhill didn't rate highly with the occasional visitor. Because of that, we are delighted to be working with Prof Andrew Fearne, a recognised retail specialist, who is helping us develop a shopping identity for the town and to make it somewhere people want to come for their shopping experience.

"To plan the future of town centre shopping we need your help - so please fill in the survey and let us have the information we need to make a real difference."

Haverhill Online News

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