CHRISTMAS shoppers who walk to high streets could be spending more than those who drive there, says new research.

Living Streets, the UK charity for everyday walking launched its updated research, “The Pedestrian Pound” in Edinburgh yesterday.

The charity hopes the new report will inspire local councils to invest in the local walking environment.

A review of academic evidence in the report shows shoppers on foot can spend up to six times more than those who arrive by car, and that people value walkable destinations.

Data on streets where the pedestrian experience has been improved shows footfall increasing 20-35%. This bucks a 22% decline in footfall across the UK between 2007-2017. The report found when streets are regenerated to boost walking, there is a corresponding impact on turnover and property values.

Stuart Hay, director at Living Streets Scotland said: “Walking has long been undervalued as a minor mode of transport but is in fact the lifeblood of the high street. There is a significant body of academic evidence and examples showing that environmental improvements can boost footfall and local economies.

“For too long, the debate has focused solely on parking, instead of getting people out of their cars to support local businesses. For town centres to succeed we need high streets which are safe and attractive for walking, with 20mph zones and cleaner air. With less traffic, people will be encouraged to visit and enjoy their local high street more often.”

The Pedestrian Pound confirms the big challenge for high streets is the pace of digital change. In 2017, 77% of adults bought goods or services online compared to 53% in 2008, according to ONS figures.

Dr Rachel Lee, policy and research coordinator at Living Streets said: “High streets need to offer people more than what they can get online. It needs to be about the experience, a place where people like to get together, socialise and feel part of a community. Making places better for walking complements the shift in emphasis towards the quality of the consumer experience.

“When people enjoy a place, they stay longer and spend more. Not only does this boost trade and help revive our high streets but by encouraging people to walk more we also bolster our national economy.”