Thank you to the 708 people who completed our survey during January 2024. The purpose of this survey was to better understand how people are using Putney town centre. Positively Putney is funded by businesses to support them and to improve the trading environment of the town centre. Your input as the main users of the town centre is valuable to us to ensure we focus on the right things.
83% of respondents lived in the SW15 postcode and 75% had visited Putney within the last week of completing the survey so the majority of you are regular local users which provides us with vital information.
70% walked into Putney, followed with 11% by car and 9% by bus. Train and tube had 7% together, cycling was 3% and Uber boat was just one person.
34% visited between 8am and midday, 44% between midday and 4pm and 19% between 4pm and 8pm. Just a small amount of those who completed the survey visited before 8am or after 8pm.
The age breakdown was well split across all age categories above 25 years.
Grocery shopping was the principle reason given for visiting Putney, followed by non- food shopping. 24 people wrote gym in the other box rather than ticking the visiting exercise studio box increasing that to 13% rather than 10% making it the 3rd reason for visiting. We do appreciate that people come into Putney for a number of reasons but we wanted to understand what the main motivation was.
63% felt the offer of businesses in the town centre was average or above.
Traffic solutions and filling empty units were by far the highest ranked when asked about aspirations for the future of Putney town centre. These are two issues that require multiple stakeholders to work together to make a change. As a BID there is only so much influence we have but we will prioritise both of these issues and do as much as we can. It is sadly looking increasingly likely that Hammersmith bridge is never going to be renovated as the estimated costs have increased now making it even more unaffordable. However, we need to work with partners to look at other options to reduce the traffic using Putney High Street simply as a way to get into central London.
One hundred and forty nine different businesses were mentioned as peoples favourite business with many receiving multiple votes. It is nice to hear how many businesses are loved. Waitrose came out top as the favourite business with 106 mentions, followed by Physical Culture Gym based in the arches on Winthorpe Road. In joint third position was Waterstones and Blabar. Interesting that they are both retailers and cafes combined.
We regularly speak to landlords with vacant units to understand why they are not occupied. It is a combination of various reasons; high business rates, expensive rent prices, pension pot properties and awaiting development. This is frustrating and we will continue to put pressure on the landlords to consider meanwhile uses whilst they are waiting for their big plans and encourage them that maybe now is the time to drop rents!
The next highest request for the future of Putney was for more retail. Town Centers are adapting and there was a time when the main reason for visiting was to shop but this is no longer the case. National retailers are reducing their physical number of units and the pandemic followed by the cost of living crisis has made it a real challenge for independent retailers. People’s habits have changed and we need to find new ways to reinvent the town centre. In response to what would encourage you to spend more time in Putney the most popular response was more shops. We did not ask any questions on people’s use of internet shopping but this change in habit accelerated by need during Covid has changed the retail landscape forever. We will continue to encourage retailers into Putney but we do know that some independents trading in Putney find it increasingly hard to make profit as people tend to default to using the internet. Therefore we ask you all to think again when quickly ordering something on your phone whether a business within Putney could actually help.
The Marks and Spencer site was mentioned frequently in responses, they are still paying rent on the vacant site on Putney High Street so whilst the landlord receives their rent he has no motivation to do anything with the site. However, we do know that Marks and Spencer do want to come back into Putney and are actively looking for a suitable site. Everyone agrees they are sorely missed.
The key strengths for Putney given were very varied but in summary it was the location on the River Thames and the excellent transport links. We absolutely agree Putney is a beautiful place to live, work and visit and we need to remember this and regularly remind others.