The Harrogate Advertiser’s Town Centre Survey found that 88.1% of people who responded used the town’s independent shops, bars, cafes and restaurants.
But our survey then went on to ask the public “what do the independents offer that the big chains don’t?”
The top five answers included things like: personal service, individual character, variety of product, higher quality and sense of local community.
But those responses do not quite convey the depth of respondents’ appreciation for what independents offer or the detailed comments they took the time to make in our survey both online and in print.
Some chains remain as hugely popular as ever in Harrogate town centre.
But the survey showed that love of the ‘brand’ is no longer as deep or universal as it once was.
One reader seemed to sum up the general feeling best by pointing out that consumers’ taste had now changed.
“Stop assuming you can force people to shop there by introducing more high street brands. People’s habits have changed.
“Instead, encourage unusual and independent businesses in a market style setting with products you can’t get online.”
Another respondent spoke of independents’ “friendliness, more environmentally-friendly, using local produce and showing more local knowledge and willingness to connect with events in the local area.”
The final word among many words goes to another reader who said independents should be encouraged in Harrogate because they put more back into the town.
“Big chains exist to put money in the pockets of shareholders. They are not concerned at all with Harrogate or the people who live and work here.
“Any independent is to be preferred to any national/international name as it is actually possible that they care.”