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As the decline of the UK’s once-bustling high streets continues to be a concern, research from Nationwide Building Society reveals a quarter of children (26%) don’t even know what one is. But the resounding message is clear – children value the experience of shopping locally, with 74 per cent stating they would rather spend £10 in a shop than online (15%). However, kids expect more variety on their local high street, more places to play and for their parents and carers to take them in the first place.

The national poll of 2,000 children aged five to 11 reveals seven per cent of children think a high street is literally the highest street in their local area, while one per cent think it’s a road that leads to the sky. In terms of geographic split, those in Northern Ireland were the least aware with two in five (43%) children not knowing what a high street is, compared to one in 10 (10%) in Greater London.

Nationwide commissioned the research as part of an ongoing commitment to the great British high street. This year the Society has pledged to not leave any town or city in which it is based without a branch until at least May 2021 – despite hundreds of bank branch closures this year alone. According to the poll, almost one in four (23%) children have never visited a greengrocer while close to one in three (32%) have never been to the butcher. This compares to just three per cent who have never visited a baker.

The research highlights that despite a lack of awareness, children want to experience bricks-and-mortar shopping, with nearly three quarters (72%) preferring to buy in a shop than online. The reasons are that they get to explore all the different things in there (64%), they get to feel grown up (31%), and that they get to talk to people (10%). Interestingly, children were able to shed light on their parents’ shopping habits too – three quarters (76%) say their shopping usually comes from a large supermarket and two in five (40%) said they shop online. Half of children in Greater London (50%) say their family shops online, compared to just over a quarter of children in Wales (27%).