Three welsh towns top mystery shop poll

A team of mystery shoppers have rated three Carmarthenshire towns as having the best independent retailers in Britain.


Throughout September, a professional team carried out three Location Model projects, designed by Skillsmart Retail, the Sector Skills Council for Retail, in Llanelli, Ammanford and Carmarthen to see how well the independent retailers and towns performed in a number of different areas.


As part of the research, trained market researchers visited a selection of independent retailers in the three towns twice to judge how well they are performing in areas such as customer service, product knowledge and window display.


Llanelli produced a score of 94.8%, the best out of just under 90 towns and cities across the UK, including Cambridge, Newport and Sunderland, which have all been assessed through the Location Model. Carmarthen scored 94.7% coming second and Ammanford 91.5% coming third.


All three towns had over 95% of the mystery shopping visits rated ‘good’ or ‘very good’ and over 90% said they would recommend the store to a friend.


The research also included town centre assessments, which looked at the environment that shoppers and retailers have to work in, and street interviews with visitors and residents to gauge impressions of the shopping in the towns.


The street interviews for Carmarthen received some of the most complimentary comments received in Location Models. More than four-fifths (81%) of respondents agreed parking was easy to find in the town centre, compared to the average 41%. The vast majority of respondents agreed the town was clean and tidy (88%) and generally felt safe in the town (95%). Even more impressive was that 85% agreed the town centre has shown definite improvements over the past two years and 83% attributed this to the council’s efforts. Both of these percentages were over double the average response.


The reports did highlight a few areas for improvement in the towns which will be used byCarmarthenshire County Council to give an overview of the retail offer in the area and how it can be improved to support local businesses and customer demands.


The exercise is part of a project being run by Skillsmart Retail for the National Skills Academy for Retail. It is supported by the Welsh Government’s Sector Priorities Fund Pilot (SPFP) programme that also receives additional support from the European Social Fund (ESF). It is also supported by Carmarthenshire County Council.


Carmarthenshire County Council Leader, Cllr. Meryl Gravell said: “Congratulations to our independent retailers for producing such outstanding mystery shopping results. These local businesses are not only very important to the local economy but are vital in maintaining the area’s identity and the Council will continue to support them so they can be enjoyed by visitors and residents alike.


“The results of these surveys give us a real feel of where we stand compared to other similar towns and cities across the country. We will now spend time looking at the recommendations for all three towns to see how we can make the area’s shopping experience even better.”


Jane Rexworthy, Head of the National Skills Academy for Retail said: “Carmarthenshire’s leaders and independent retailers should be hugely proud of themselves for these amazing results. The area clearly has some very talented retailers who are focused on providing excellent customer experience.”


“The reports are given to each retailer who took part in the mystery shopping and will be very useful to help them pinpoint what improvements they can make and we will be following up with potential training opportunities to help the retailers to be the best they can be.”


The National Skills Academy for Retail’s nationwide network of skills shops is a one-stop shop for retail training. There are three skills shops in Wales offering training and advice to retailers of all sizes across Wales.


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