In response to the letter from Ms Steel in The Visitor dated May 6 regarding the shopping survey I wish to make the following statement.
The Shopping Survey was not carried out by “so called experts” as stated. The offer of a three pronged in depth survey was offered to all towns who had been successful in obtaining monies under the Portas Pilot scheme. The normal cost for such an in-depth survey is £10,000 and we were offered it at a very realistic price of £2,500.
This included a secret shopper survey which covered a wide area of the town (not just Victoria Street), a shopkeeper survey to identify their current situation and an analysis of all the various statistics available to assist future planning.
All three surveys resulted in a report. The shopper survey was confidential and the Town Team had two four-hour feedback sessions at which all the business people could attend. Also, the individual businesses who had participated were able to have a confidential feedback session from the investigators should they so wish.
The results were very interesting and encouraging. It was found that our prices are reasonable and value for money, we had some shops/outlets giving excellent service, there was a good range of goods available.
Where occasionally we fell down was on follow-up service and, unfortunately, some assistants actually decried the town when asked what there is to do. One of the set questions was where is the Visitor Information Centre? That answer, at least, should be readily forthcoming for visitors.
The Town Team have been pro-active in responding to the few shortcomings identified and are actively investigating appropriate training to offer the towns businesses and are producing a card with 10 things to do in the town together with a map of where visitor attractions are in the area.
Although there have been such surveys carried out elsewhere, I can assure Ms Steel that our survey was to gain insight to Morecambe’s trade and in no way were comparisons made with other areas where different dynamics apply.
Chair Morecambe Town Team.