Hairdressers and coffee shops have been voted as the friendliest small businesses on the high street, according to a survey of 2,000 UK adults. Corner shops, newsagents, local pubs, fish and chip shops, restaurants, and butchers also made it into the top 10.
The study found that 35 percent of respondents considered at least one independent shop owner to be a friend. Additionally, half of the participants claimed they could have personal conversations with employees who work on the high street, with hairdressers, beauty salons, and bar staff ranking high on the list of trusted individuals.
Surprisingly, 23 percent of those who trust these high street employees would confide in them more than their neighbors, and 21 percent would confide in them more than their partners.
Conversations with high street businesses have seen a significant change over the past year. Thirty-six percent of respondents reported discussing energy prices more frequently due to the recent crisis. Furthermore, 22 percent have these discussions with local businesses at least once a week.
The survey revealed that rising costs (40 percent) and soaring energy prices (40 percent) are more commonly discussed than holiday plans (37 percent), nights out (nine percent), and relationship woes (seven percent). Thirty percent of respondents stated they had never discussed energy with local business owners before the cost-of-living crisis, but it has now become the most frequently discussed topic.
Victoria Bacon, director of Smart Energy GB, which commissioned the research, highlighted the importance of local businesses to communities and acknowledged that the energy crisis affects both households and businesses. She suggested that small changes, such as turning off appliances when not in use or installing smart meters, can help businesses save money in the long run.
In a separate survey of 500 SMEs, over 89 percent of respondents felt they had done everything possible to reduce their energy costs. However, 76 percent expressed a desire for more advice and support on how to further reduce their bills.
The survey also revealed that 75 percent of business owners who regularly interact with customers have noticed increased budgetary concerns among their customers, resulting in reduced visits.
While half of the local business owners surveyed were aware of the benefits of smart meters for monitoring their home energy usage, 58 percent were unaware that smart meters could also be used by small businesses to manage energy costs at work.
Smart Energy GB has released a Smart Meters for Small Businesses guide to help businesses utilize smart meters effectively.
Victoria Bacon encouraged small business owners to manage their energy costs by installing smart meters, as they provide visibility and control over energy use. Smart meters enable businesses to understand their energy expenditure before receiving a bill, aiding in financial planning and cash flow management.
To determine eligibility for a smart meter, businesses are advised to contact their energy supplier.