Shoppers urged to take a 30-second survey to improve Marlborough’s retail offering

Written by Peter Davison.


A major exercise to find out more about shopping habits in Marlborough is underway this week.

Volunteers will be counting the number of shoppers in key locations around the town tomorrow (Wednesday).

Meanwhile, residents are being asked to fill in a short, anonymous online questionnaire. The Shoppers Origin Survey poses four simple questions: whether the respondent is male or female, their age, whether they use Marlborough to shop, and what their postcode is.

The answers will help experts determine the geographical reach and appeal of Marlborough as a shopping destination. The survey takes around 30 seconds to complete.

The findings of the surveys - along with inspections of car parks and signage - will feed in to a report, from which a Town Plan will be produced.

Mike King from Towns Alive, who is conducting the exercise on behalf of Marlborough Town Council, said: “The purpose of the exercise is to understand Marlborough town centre and how it is performing, compared to other towns of a similar nature and size.

“We also look at the mix of shops and measure the distribution of comparison and convenience retail. We calculate the percentage of independent, regional and national retailers. And we count the number of vacant business premises.

“These figures are then compared against every other market town in the southwest region.”

Meanwhile, a business confidence survey is being sent to every town centre business, asking owners about turnover, profitability and expectations for the future.

“The resulting report gives you a robust body of evidence, rather than anecdotal evidence, about the impact of car parking tariffs, the absence of signage, a lack of parking spaces, and anything else a town feels is having a negative impact on its economic vitality,” said Mr King.

The formation of the Town Plan is the first step on the road to establishing a Business Improvement District scheme, which would allow the town to establish a fund which would be used to pay for projects that would enhance the economic vitality of the town.

A B.I.D. can only be established in the majority of businesses vote in favour of it. A levy - typically between one and three percent - is added to the business rates, but rather than being given to central government for redistribution - a method that sees market towns like Marlborough receive far less than they put in - the levy is ring fenced and comes straight back to the town.

Members of the B.I.D. then decide how the money is to be spent.

“From Christmas lights, better signage, and street furniture to festivals and advertising and marketing campaigns to promote the town, business communities can really benefit from the establishment of a Business Improvement District,” said Chamber of Commerce president Alex Minoudis.

“The Chamber is fully supportive of this proposal, and we are confident that individual businesses large and small will be in favour.”

The scheme is currently working with great success in Swindon and has recently been adopted by Salisbury. Amesbury, Chippenham, and Trowbridge are all currently in the process of creating B.I.Ds.

To take the Shoppers Origin Survey, log on to