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Hairdressers considered the friendliest businesses on the high street

  • 35 per cent of people consider at least one independent small business owner a pal
  • 40 per cent of people are talking about rising costs and soaring energy prices with local businesses
  • 89 per cent of small business owners feel they have done as much as they can to reduce their energy costs

Brits consider hairdressers to be the friendliest small businesses on the high street along with coffee shops, corner shops and newsagents.

The local pub, fish and chip shop, restaurant and butcher also make it into the Top Ten, according to a survey of 2,000 UK adults, released today.

The poll, commissioned by Smart Energy GB, also found 35 per cent of consumers consider at least one independent business owner as a friend.  

Half said they would speak to people who work on the high street about something personal, with hairdressers, beauty salons and bar staff topping the list of people consumers feel they are able to trust. 23 per cent of those polled say they would confide more in local business owners than their neighbours and 21 per cent more than they would their partner.

However, conversations with high street businesses have changed over the past year, with the current economic climate proving challenging for both businesses and households. 36 per cent consumers say they are talking more about energy prices now than they did before the recent energy crisis, with 22 per cent saying they have these discussions with local firms at least once a week.

When it comes to what we are chatting about, rising costs (40 per cent) and soaring energy prices (40 per cent) come up in conversation more frequently than holiday plans (37 per cent), nights out (nine per cent) and relationship woes (seven per cent).

A further 30 per cent said they had never discussed energy with local business owners before the cost-of-living crisis, but now it’s the topic they discuss the most.

Victoria Bacon, Director of Smart Energy GB, said: “We know how important local businesses are to communities up and down the country, and that the energy crisis is affecting them, as well as households.

“Even small changes can save a company money in the long run, whether it’s turning off appliances at the wall when they’re not in use, or getting a smart meter installed for your business.”

And when it comes to advice, 55 per cent say that they’ve been offered helpful tips on at least one area of life when talking to people who work in local businesses.  

In a separate survey of 500 SMEs, more than 89 per cent said they feel they have done as much as they can to reduce their energy costs, with 76 per cent stating they would welcome more advice and support on how to reduce their bills. 

But, of those who regularly interact with their customers, 75 per cent have seen consumers become increasingly anxious about their budgets and 28 per cent think they are visiting their business less as a result, according to the stats by OnePoll.

However, while half of local business owners are aware of smart meters as a useful tool for monitoring how much power they use at home, 58 per cent are unaware they could also be used by small businesses to help keep on top of energy costs at work. 

And 41 per cent of those who have a smart meter at both home and work said the data they get from it has helped them to better control their energy usage and bills, while 35 per cent said it was useful for planning their future cashflow.

Smart Energy GB has produced a new Smart Meters for Small Businesses guide, which is available today.

Victoria Bacon, Smart Energy GB, added: “Small business owners are working really hard to manage energy costs. Something they can also do both at home and at work, for many at no extra cost, is get a smart meter installed, which can give them visibility and control over their energy use.

“This means they know what they are spending on their energy before they receive their bill, which can help with financial planning and cashflow. To find out if your business is eligible for a smart meter, contact your energy supplier.”