Lack of eco-effort is costing the high street millions, Post Office Shop survey suggests

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As climate becomes more and more a focus for people there appears to be a perceived lack of effort by businesses to be more eco-friendly, which could be costing the UK high street millions of pounds a year, a survey by the Post Office Shop has found.

When it comes to the nation’s perception of the commitment shown by retail outlets, only 15% of Brits believe high street brands are doing enough to reduce their impact on the environment.

And with one in five shoppers (20%) saying that a company’s eco-friendliness is their main priority when deciding where to shop, it appears many businesses could be compromising their market share.

The environment has been brought to the centre of the British public’s attention twice this month by Prime Minister David Cameron, who announced plans to rip up green regulations in a speech on Monday (27 January 2014).

While he has also admitted to MPs he suspected the recent floods which have wreaked havoc across the UK were linked to climate change.

The survey – the results of which can be read in full on the Post Office Shop website – suggests this issue is now manifesting itself in the public’s shopping habits, as a further 60% of Brits also admit to taking a business’ green efforts into consideration when shopping – but not ahead of cost or quality.

With the Office for National Statistics reporting this month non-food stores accounted for £4.1bn of sales a week, it’s highly probable the British public’s lack of confidence in the high street’s environmental actions is hitting businesses to the tune of millions of pounds a year.

The findings also come just days after it was reported the number of high street shoppers was down 3.7% over Christmas (British Retail Consortium).

The report was commissioned by the Post Office Shop as part of its effort to get the British public buying more green-friendly goods for the home and office.

In the last year the Post Office Shop said it has achieved a 5% reduction in both CO2 from vehicle fuel and also water use, as well as recycling over 55% of all waste generated.

The survey was compiled by over 1,200 responses to questions about people’s perceptions of both their own and businesses’ eco efforts.

It showed a clear gender difference in attitudes towards the environment, as 21% of men don’t consider environmental impact a priority at work, while this figure is just 12% for women.

The survey also suggests the British public is sceptical of the government eco policies such as the Green Deal, with nearly a third believing that green legislation will either have no effect on the UK economy or that businesses will simply avoid it.

Other findings include:

  • 57% of Brits contribute to eco-friendly efforts at work as well as at home
  • 59% think their employer could do more to go green
  • 14% of people don’t place any importance on green efforts
  • Only one in five consider the UK as a leading force in world environmental responsibility

Professor William Young from the Sustainability Research Institute at the University of Leeds, said: “Consumers are doing their bit at home and expect high street brands to do it [as well] – but without compromising quality or value for money.

“The most successful retailing brands have environmental responsibility at the heart of their strategies, operations and products. Today, environmental responsibility is one of the key factors for a successful high street brand.

“Consumers now expect high street brands to offer ‘super green’ product ranges. However, they also expect them to have significantly reduced environmental impacts in all product ranges, in shops and within supply chains.

“Consumers are more likely to buy ‘super green’ product ranges from retailers and brands they trust. They also trust green behaviour messages from them rather than from government but are becoming more sophisticated at spotting weak or false green claims.”