Atmosphere - 237 'Vital and Viable' Factors

As part of our series on vital and viable high streets, the High Streets Task Force is presenting 'evidence on a page' summaries of over 200 factors that influence the success of high streets. Here we address atmosphere; atmosphere refers to a global assessment of a centre, made up of a number of factors such as manoeuvrability, orientation and overall ambience and behaviour of people. It includes historic architecture, how fresh the air is and other aspects of the centre that can be seen as a unique feature of urban retailing and can be a competitive advantage.

Date added 10 November 2021
Last updated 10 November 2021

The atmosphere of a high street or centre directly influences the attractiveness of it. It can help a place stand out, and if it has a positive and unique atmosphere, this becomes part of the centre’s competitive advantage. A positive atmosphere naturally drives visitors to a place and directly impacts on purchasing behaviour (Donovan et al., 1994).

Teller and Elms (2012:12) suggest that the “retail and non-retail tenant mix, product range and sales personnel positively affects the atmosphere of an urban retail agglomeration” and “the manoeuvrability/orientation within and infrastructural facilities positively affect perception of atmosphere of an urban retail agglomeration”. Place managers can control the atmosphere by marketing the place in collaboration with retailers and other tenants on the high street. The focus could also be on changing or improving existing conditions such as parking conditions as well as the manoeuvrability and orientation of the place users. Some aspects of atmosphere are more difficult to control without regenerating the area e.g. poor architecture and others are completely out of control such as temperature of the place.

Atmosphere is one of 237 factors that have been identified as influencing the vitality and viability of the high street.

For more information and further reading, download the pdf 'evidence on a page'. The page contains information about this factors place within the 237 factors identified and: whether it is a component factor of one of 25 'vital and viable' priorities; how the factor scores in terms of influence, place management control, and priority.

To read more about vital and viable high streets, see