£ Multi Million investment programme one of biggest in UK retail history
- Postal Affairs Minister, Baroness Neville-Rolfe officially opens 5000 milestone branch
- Post Office modernisation programme delivers extra 150,000 opening hours a week for customers
- Modernised branches benefiting from an average ten per cent increase in retail sales
- A quarter more likely to shop local than five years ago
- Almost half like to shop locally to give something back to their community
- For one in five, it’s all in a name as local shops provide the personal touch
- A quarter of adults more likely to shop in store at a small business which has an online presence
As small businesses across the UK get set to celebrate Small Business Saturday on December 5th Post Office, the UK’s largest small business retail network, has announced it has completed investment in over 5000 of its branches and the retail outlets from which they operate, delivering an extra 150,000 opening hours a week for customers.
The Post Office celebrated reaching the milestone at the opening of a brand new branch at Caterways in Horsham, which is based in a convenience store and open for business seven days a week.
Postal Affairs Minister, Baroness Neville-Rolfe who officially opened Caterways Post Office on Thursday 3rd December said: “The Post Office is the country’s largest small business retail network and research shows a third of small businesses use its services every week. Small businesses, like post offices, are the lifeblood of our economy.”
The announcement coincides with new Post Office research ahead of Small Business Saturday which has revealed an increased desire for people to shop locally and support small businesses in their communities. Around a quarter of people (26 per cent) surveyed stated they are more likely to do their shopping with local small businesses than five years ago.
More than two in five people (42 per cent) shop with local small businesses at least once a week or more. Of these, almost half (48 per cent) said they do so because they feel they are giving something back to their community.
For one in five (20 per cent) it’s the personal touch that matters’ they like the fact that people know their name and almost one in five say it’s because they meet local people. A preference to buy local produce is the driver for a quarter of people (24 per cent).
The Post Office is a keen supporter of Small Business Saturday, the majority of its branches being run from a small business retail outlet. Locations vary from shops to pubs, restaurants and even vets. A third of small businesses¹ visit Post Office branches each week to access services varying from business banking to fulfilling online orders through Post Office’s Drop & Go a fast track mail service developed just for Small Businesses.
Martin George, Commercial Director at Post Office said: “Small businesses really are at the heart of the communities across the UK so it’s pleasing to see just how much customers value the services they offer. Over 8000 Post Office branches are based in small businesses so we know how much people rely on the vital services that both the Post Office and the retail outlet that runs alongside it provide.”
“We are undertaking one of the UK’s biggest investment programmes into small businesses. Through our transformation programme, we have now modernised over 5000 branches, investing in both the Post Office and retail space, offering longer opening hours for customers and increasing average retail sales in those branches by 10 per cent.”
The Post Office research revealed that as more people get online to search out deals and offers, having an online window to the world is vital for small businesses. A quarter of adults online (24 per cent) said they would be more likely to shop in store at a small business if they have an online presence. Customers say they like browse to a business’s products before purchasing in store (60 per cent) and around half (52 per cent) say they like to check information such as opening hours.
With Christmas just around the corner, over two thirds of people intend to do some of their Christmas shopping from local small businesses, with over a quarter of people (29 per cent) doing at least a third of their shopping there.
Through its modernisation programme, the Post Office is offering an extra 500,000 hours this festive season to make it easier than ever to access its services. Thousands of branches are now open for longer, with over 3000 open seven days a week.
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Notes to editors
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2141 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 16th November - 17th November 2015. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
¹ Post Office data 2014/15
In 2012 the Government has committed £1.3 bn investment for the Post Office network to make sure there is no programme of Post Office closures and to update branches; in November 2013 the Government announced a further £640m investment in the Post Office network, from 2015 to 2018. Nationwide the investment programme will see up to 8,000 branches modernised with additional investment in over 3,000 community and outreach branches.
The Post Office is proud to be a founder and lead member of the Great British High Street Forum helping to raise the changing profile of local retail and community facilities alongside Boots, Costa, M&S and the DCLG.
About the Post Office
The Post Office (Post Office Limited) has an unrivalled national network of over 11,500 branches across the UK, more than all the high street banks combined, and sits at the heart of communities in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England. The Post Office has made a commitment to maintaining its network of branches at its current size and reach. It provides around 170 different products and services spanning financial services including savings, insurance, loans, mortgages and credit cards; Government services; telephony; foreign currency; travel insurance and mail services.
The Post Office serves over 17 million customers a week and a third of small businesses. Some 99.7% of the total population live within three miles of a post office and over 97% live with one mile of a post office. For many rural communities, the post office is the only retail outlet. Post Offices branches remain highly valued and trusted, and are the focal point of many communities. For more information, visit http://www.postoffice.co.uk/.
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