In June 2018 Enfield Council commissioned a research company, The Retail Group to conduct a short survey of business owners and managers in Winchmore Hill to understand:
"how is Winchmore Hill performing"
and "to capture the issues that are holding back performance growth, as well as the improvements wanted by retailers in the centre".
The research was undertaken around Winchmore Hill Broadway, Winchmore Hill Green,
Masons Corner and Vicars Moor Lane.
The questionnaire was given to some but not all Winchmore Hill businesses, to be completed
and collected on the same day. The deadline was then extended as the initial response rate was
59 of the 90 questionnaires which were delivered were completed. This was sufficient to prove
a snap shot of the Winchmore Hill economy. To use the 'health check' analogy, this survey is akin
to filling out health & lifestyle questionnaires at GP surgeries, attending A&E etc. to assess the
overal health of the 'patient', before more detailed diagnosis and treatment.
Paul Clarke, Principal Regeneration Officer Neighbourhood Regenerationat Enfield Council has given permission to make the the survey results public. You can download the Winchmore Hill and the Palmers Green reports using these links:
WINCHMORE HILL RETAIL HEALTH CHECK
PALMERS GREEN RETAIL HEALTH CHECK
Here is a summary of the Winchmore Hill Retail Healthcheck Report:
• Winchmore Hill is described predominately as a 'convenience economy'. People use the local businesses for their every day needs because of their close proximity and convenience of access. This is borne out by the average customer spend and patterns of visiting.
• The report states "whilst the average transaction values are mainly under £10, a significant minority are also encouragingly between £11>£20. Furthermore, a fairly sizeable 23% of retailers also report ATV's > £51. These are typically financial services operators".
This is incorrect and points to a poor understanding of Winchmore Hill. A very large number of businesses have an average customer spend of well over £10, from hairdressers & beauty salons, dentists & health clinics, to shops such as Pounds, Hond & Langer, Russdales, Bang & Olufsen, Vivid Lighting, Il Falcone, The Mens Room, Minsky, Panache, Winchmore Hill Auto Centre and Hilltop Motors etc and all our restaurants and takeaways.
• However, it should be of concern that less than half of the businesses who completed the survey described themselves as being "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with the performance of their business. (Blue bar). Furthermore, satisfaction with the performance of Winchmore Hill is alarming low. (Orange bar)
• What do businesses see as Winchmore Hill's strengths?
• And Winchmore Hill's weaknesses?
The businesses who took part in the survey believe that the reduction in on-street parking has had a major impact on trading.
• More than half of the businesses interviewed stated that their turnover had fallen over the past year (to June).
• What would improve trading in Winchmore Hill? – better parking and access to shops, were what the businesses suggested most frequently.
Enfield Council's own independent business suvey demonstrates that the downturn in trading in Winchmore Hill over the past year is attributef by business owners to the construction of the A105 cycle lanes.
The Retail Group Conclusions
This first conclusion sums up what is urgently need to support Winchmore Hill's local economy.
"Businesses are keen to see actions to improve footfall and activity".
The Retail Group state that "a large proportion of retailers are critical of Cycle Enfield particularly in regards to a perceived loss of parking and drop in footfall numbers".
Despite this finding, the Retail's Group's recommendations display a distinct lack of local knowledge, are very superficial, frankly bordering on an insult to business owners.
They are advocating more visiting markets and themed events, making use of the "improved pedestrian environment generated by Cycle Enfield". It is not made clear where these markets would take place and how more customers can be atttracted without cannabilising the trade of existing businesses.
The Retail Group suggest "animating the streets through additional traffic calmed activity and events will generate additional footfall, goodwill and improve the reputation of the centres as a lively and worthwhile places to visit" – what exactly does this mean?
Another recommendation is that Enfield Council produce "a Prospectus which could be used to promote the area and provide local agents with information to use when targeting and securing new retailers to the centre". Is this really going to solve Winchmore Hill business problems?
An Alternative Conclusion
It can be argued that most of the problems that have exacerbated trading for Winchmore Hill businesses over the past year, (but especially for those along Green Lanes) have been caused by LBE rather than wider macro-economic factors.
Enfield Council is to blame for the significant reduction in trading experienced by many local businesses. Taking away on-street parking, making it harder for people to walk around, cross the Green Lanes and increased congestion has taken its toll on Winchmore Hill business.
Please take the time to read the whole report and think about the issues and your business afresh.
Apparently a 'Town Centre Plan' is being worked on. No more detail as yet as to how Winchmore Hill businesses will be involved.
The Winchmore Hill and Palmers Green Retail Healthcheck reports have been sent to the three Winchmore Hill councillors, Cllr Maria Alexandrou, Cllr Dinah Barry and Cllr Ian Barnes, as well as Bambos Charalambous MP for comment; but also to ask whether they would be prepared to help kickstart some remedial action to address the problems facing many businesses in Winchmore Hill and Palmers Green.
Remember that Regeneris research published in January 2016, which 'reassured' local people that the construction of the A105 cycle lanes would probably not result in a fall of around 0.4% in the local economy?
How wrong, very wrong.
Regeneris Economic Impact Assessment of the Cycle Enfield Scheme on the A105 Corridor Town Centres
A Critique of the Regeneris Economic Impact Assessment of the Cycle Enfield Scheme on A105 Corridor Town Centres
It will be vital that Enfield Council consults and works with business owners to stem any further loss of businesses and hopefully create the conditions that more of the empty premises attract investors.
If you have any ideas for next steps, which can be fed back to the Regeneration team please get in touch.
WINCHMORE HILL COUNCILLOR MARIA ALEXANDROU WRITES:
Firstly I would like to thank the Council for these retail health check reports. I do wish more retailers were approached as this would have provided more insight but the information collated is still very useful going forward. It's very helpful to understand that local people and local workers use the shops around the Winchmore hill area for convenience and variety. The community spirit and hard working businesses and location were positive factors contributing to the strengths of the area.
What I find disturbing is that of those businesses that participated, over half reported that turnover was down from the year before.This is a worrying trend that needs to be addressed. The retailers offered serious indicators for this downturn- mainly lack of parking and cycle lanes being implemented.
Unfortunately,the high street is littered with shops that have remained empty for a considerable time and this is damaging to our beautiful area. Shops like IVORY have closed down citing cycle lanes as one of the reasons. Businesses like The Mens Room are struggling to survive as their customers cannot find parking spaces due to the removal of on street parking.
Pedestrian crossings need to be improved to increase footfall, namely at the Fords Grove junction and Masons corner.
Many of my residents have pointed out to me that congestion is a huge problem.This can be easily alleviated by taking away the traffic lights by Sainsbury's entrance in Winchmore hill.The Fords Grove junction traffic lights serve to confuse pedestrians as well as drivers and cause undue traffic. Removing the traffic lights here would ensure a better flow of traffic .These junctions need to be reviewed urgently and practical measures be put in place to ensure pedestrian safety.
This survey was productive in its question regarding how to improve Winchmore hill shopping area.
Business owners highlightted many ways this could be done. Now we need the Council to work with the businesses to solve these problems, urgently.