Indicators toolkit

The High Streets Task Force encourages evidenced-based decision-making and the measurement of place interventions. This document produced by Andres Coca-Stefaniak, ATCM, and GFirst, provides practical information about the key indicators that can be monitored in order to evaluate the performance, vitality and viability of places. It will be useful for anybody involved in managing - or operating in - town centres and high streets. It covers indicators such as footfall, community spirit, reported crime, offer, visitor experience, and sales.

Date added 28 July 2020
Last updated 28 July 2020

This document provides practical information about the key indicators that can be monitored in order to evaluate the performance, vitality and viability of places. It will be useful for anybody involved in managing - or operating in - town centres and high streets. It organises a wide range of metrics into four key areas (Annex C: people and footfall; Annex D: diversity and vitality of place; Annex E: consumer and business perceptions; and Annex F: economic characteristics), and provides information such as sources of data, how to collect data, improving results and reliability, and key points to consider for each indicator. A summary of example indicators covered is provided below:

Footfall

Pedestrian movement and the number of people walking up and down the high street or town centre. Often linked to place attractiveness. Represents potential not actual customers. Often influenced by weather, events, and seasons.

Geographical catchment

The places people have travelled from to visit. To remain resilient, an understanding of where visitors come from is needed to provide a desirable offer. Also relates to socio-demographic variables. Catchment may grow/shrink depending on season/time of the year.

Access

Modes of transport used by people to access the centre. Can help urban planners with investment decisions. Need to consider both available transport and whether this is communicated to users. People may need to use multiple modes of transport to access.

Community spirit

Local perception and experience of social bonds in and around the town centre. Stronger sense of community can lead to pride of place and better quality of life. It can also lead to a greater sense of place distinctiveness for visitors.

Markets

The existence of regular markets in town centres. Can drive footfall into places from both local residents and other visitors, and add diversity to retail offer. Retail offer within the markets could also be surveyed to gain a better picture of diversity of the centre.

Visitor experience

Visitors’ satisfaction with the town centre or high street, including but beyond looking at satisfaction of retail offer. Includes a broad range of aspects such as cleanliness, signage, public toilets, lighting after dark, walkability etc. Experience levels can influence dwell time, spend, and propensity to revisit.

Vacant units

Changes in level of vacant units. More vacant units have traditionally been associated with economic decline; but could also be seen as an opportunity for reinvention by incorporating more diversity in the centre. Can be the result of sectoral, societal, or consumer behaviour changes.

For related resources

For more on footfall as a key indicator, please see this Task Force resource produced by IPM.

For information on how to measure footfall, please see this Task Force resource