Results of the Blackburn 2021 town centre business survey

The results of the recent Blackburn 2021 town centre business survey, carried out by The Retail Group on behalf of Blackburn BID and town centre partners, are in.

Thank you to all those of you who completed the survey.  We had 108 responses from 183 surveys handed out which is considered a very good response rate.  This will be very useful for the BID partnership including the Council, Police, The Mall and other partners in terms of prioritising activities and will greatly help to inform service delivery in 2022.  

Please be assured that Blackburn BID continue to work tirelessly to support the businesses of Blackburn, and the BID and our partners are committed to a strong and positive future for the town centre. 

If you have any questions about the survey, the results, or the 2022 BID Delivery Plan, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

  • Almost half of the survey respondents have traded in Blackburn for over 10 years.  9% have opened within the last year, during the pandemic period, and another quarter have been open less than 5 years. A third of the businesses being relatively new openings is a positive indicator for the town centre.
  • Blackburn is viewed positively as a place to operate in by most of its businesses.  A quarter are unsure and just 14% are dissatisfied about the location’s long term performance. 
  • Over half of businesses (56%) are trading below pre-pandemic levels, demonstrating how challenging conditions are currently.  34% of businesses are either level or up on pre-pandemic levels.
  • The overwhelming majority – 77% of businesses – expect business performance to improve or stay the same over the next 12 months.  Only 19% expect it to decline.
  • Customer visit patterns have changed as a result of the pandemic – they are visiting less, with some making shorter visits.  They are pleased that businesses are open.
  • Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) / rough sleeping and begging is a clear priority action area for the town centre and this is also underlined by businesses wanting to feel more comfortable in the town centre. 
  • The overall environment / appearance and cleaning, litter etc are areas businesses would like improvements to continue in although satisfaction levels were good overall.  Three aspects of the town centre are viewed as ‘improving’: vandalism / graffiti, pavements and gum on pavements. This underlines the increasing importance of outside space which has come to the fore during the pandemic. 
  • Businesses Agree (broadly) that facilities are ok, that information is ok, and that it is easy to find all parts of the town centre.
  • A range of the BID’s Covid-recovery activity has helped businesses, with Covid safety updates regarded as being the most beneficial. Every aspect of the support has helped some businesses. Going forward businesses would appear to prefer more promotion (across many channels) and footfall drivers such as markets and events.
  • 45% of businesses are satisfied with Blackburn BID Covid recovery support, and 8% are dissatisfied, a 5:1 positive ratio.  43% reported being neither satisfied nor dissatisfied.
  • In terms of communication, email and regular e-newsletters are the two preferred communication channels for businesses.
  • Supporting Blackburn businesses is important, with parking initiatives; improving access and transport; and improving shops / hospitality choice being regarded as high priorities.
  • Almost 72% of respondents are aware of Blackburn BID as an organisation, with 15% wanting to know a bit more about its role. Most understand its role and what it does.  This is an improvement on the town centre survey results of 2018.
  • All of Blackburn BIDs current priorities are viewed as having benefitted businesses in the town centre, with some changes or replacement suggested particularly around events, promotion and security.
  • In relation to the BIDs core services, security patrols; Christmas events and promotions; and Christmas lights switch on events are key aspects to retain, along with crime reduction initiatives and business support.  The Blackburn BID website needs a significant reworking.
  • 45% of businesses are satisfied with overall performance of the BID. A 4:1 positive ratio for satisfaction.  12% are dissatisfied. 42% reported being neither satisfied nor dissatisfied.  Since 2018 more businesses are satisfied and a couple more are dissatisfied
  • Most businesses believe that Blackburn BID is providing value for money with 45% of businesses believing the value provided to be ‘good’ or ‘high’.  An improvement on survey results in 2018, when two thirds responded ‘do not know’.
  • Almost half of respondent businesses would vote ‘Yes’ if the re-ballot for Blackburn BID was tomorrow, only 8% would vote No.  A positive ratio of circa 6:1.
  • Improving the appearance of public spaces / vacant shops is a clear top priority in relation to making the town centre cleaner, greener and more sustainable.  
  • There are three clear aspects that are top priorities for making the town centre safer and more secure – Crime prevention, ASB and Security patrols.
  • Promotional activity is a priority area, as identified in other responses.  Six activities achieve over 70% priority score – Promoting Blackburn businesses; Promoting Blackburn town centre; Christmas events and promotions; Christmas Lights Switch On event; Family focused events; website and social media activity.
  • Businesses are eager to have more promotion.  Social media channels as well as traditional outdoor advertising are key areas. Lancashire Telegraph and Rock FM also feature as a suitable local medium.

©2022 Blackburn BID

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