More work needed to spread the ‘shop local’ message

Town centre traders fail to be winning the support of local shoppers, a new survey suggests.

The Morpeth benchmarking report for 2014 has looked at where shoppers in the area are coming from, and the results may come as a surprise.

Of 980 customers surveyed in the town centre last autumn, just 37 per cent were from Morpeth.

A further 48 per cent were visitors living within a 30-minute drive of the town, and 15 per cent were tourists.

Businessman Richard Rutherford, who owns the landmark Rutherfords of Morpeth department store, said: “There is a very worrying figure that comes to mind.

“We are a dormitory town to Newcastle and we are going to become even more so with the housing that is coming in. It is bad because we now know that there are people living in this town who never touch it.

The Morpeth Town Team needs to think about how it can convince the people living in the town to use the businesses and get involved in the town.

Richard Rutherford

“Only 37 per cent of shoppers were from the town – that is terrible. It is absolutely appalling.

“The Morpeth Town Team needs to think about how it can convince the people living in the town to use the businesses and get involved in the town. That is the most important thing. It would be the most useful thing it could do.

“If we do that, the rest will come.”

Town Team member John Beynon said: “We now have these figures, which shows how useful benchmarking is. Now we can focus on what needs to be done because I totally agree it is vital.”