Anchors - 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 anchors. A high street anchor can be described as any type of attraction or infrastructure that increases, through its name and/or function, the presence of people (footfall) at the high street and the surrounding areas. Traditionally, an anchor has predominantly been a term synonymous with retailing, however, an anchor can also be a busy transport interchange (train and bus stations), a large employer (hospital or university), or a social anchor (professional sports club or community centre) that “acts as a support net to develop and maintain social networks and social capital.”

Date added 16 November 2021
Last updated 17 November 2021

An anchor within the high street is an important element of competitiveness and attractiveness, and is seen as a vital element in ‘sustainable development’ plans for locations. In terms of retailing, a variety of shops and retail formats can act as anchors by supplementing and enhancing the retail offer and the centre’s overall diversity. An anchor can also be related to leisure and entertainment activities, universities, sports stadia or to transport hubs, such as train stations that accommodate an enormous volume of commuters and allow for complementary activities such as takeaway eating and convenience shopping.

The nature of the anchor depends on the type of town, but their role as a key footfall driver makes a major contribution to the image of the location and to its uses. Place managers must ensure that the role of the anchor is recognised by other businesses in the town, as anchors can become major trip attractors and generate high levels of spill-over trade effects.

Anchors 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