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Post office branches are key to the survival of struggling high streets, according to new research, because they generate an additional £1.1bn of annual spending for other retailers.
Nick Read, chief executive at the Post Office, said: “Local post offices are a lifeline for communities across the UK as they are the place to go to do everyday banking or send parcels.
“We are an essential retailer and will remain open wherever possible during these recently introduced lockdown restrictions.
“The footfall we generate could make a big difference to sustaining high streets over the long term and helping small businesses start and grow – contributing to economic recovery across the UK.”
The research shows that a third of post office customers say they stopped at another shop, café, pub or restaurant on their last visit there.
This resulted in an additional 400 million visits to other local businesses – generating an estimated £1.1bn of extra sales for these retailers every year.
It also reveals that 82% of people regard their local post office as an “essential service”, with young people valuing it almost as much as the older generation.
he post office came out as the top choice when respondents were asked what would make up their “ideal” high street – far ahead of a supermarket or doctor’s surgery
The research, which was commissioned by the Post Office, also found that small businesses rely on their local branch to keep functioning – with 43% saying they would not survive without one.
It found that 60% of small businesses agree that a post office is “important” to them while 72% say it is “particularly important”.
When small businesses were asked how long they would be able to function without one, 32% said “only a few weeks” while 43% said they would be able to keep going “for a few months at most”.
Around 83% of small businesses said their local post office had been important to their operation during the first lockdown period in March.
Some 39% said they had gone to the post office since lockdown began – significantly higher than the proportion that had gone to work (29%) or visited their bank (21%).
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