Forty of the nation’s high streets are fighting it out to be classed as the best in the UK, with judges focussing on the shopping experience that each town has to offer and community initiatives.
A panel of independent judges will also visit each high street and take in the general ambience and feel, before awarding the winning street the Great British High Street trophy and a £15,000 cash price to be put towards a high street initiative, with the winners announced in November.
Categories include Champion High Street and Rising Star.
English High Streets shortlisted in the Champion High Street Category are Hitchin Town Centre, Freeman Street in Grimsby and Belper in Derbyshire.
In Scotland, Turriff and Alness High Street are in the running alongside Prestwick Main Street, while Wales has Narbeth, Treorchy and Swansea High Streets under consideration.
For Northern Irish shoppers, Newtownards High Street, Enniskillen Town Centre and Bow Street and Lisburn are up for the prize.
The eventual winner will be required to demonstrate their commitment to their local community, great customer experience, an environmental mindset and innovative approach to retail.
The announcement follows research commissioned by Visa, in partnership with the Great British High Street, demonstrating the positive impact the local high street has on communities.
Seven in 10 consumers say shopping locally makes them feel happier, compared to shopping online or at a shopping centre – the main reason being that they know where their money is going.
Half of consumers also feel their high street gives them a sense of pride in their local community.
Spending time with friends and family (22 per cent) and offering a sense of community (21 per cent) were other reasons cited for why high streets make people happier.
After a rigorous selection process, 12 high streets from the South East of England to the Scottish Highlands have been shortlisted in the Champion High Street category, which recognises the nation’s best High Streets.
Additionally, 28 high streets have been shortlisted in the Rising Star category, identifying those which are taking the lead to adapt and diversify.
Sundeep Kaur, head of UK & Ireland merchant services at Visa, said: “We’ve seen some fantastic entries for this year’s Great British High Street Awards across both the Champion High Street and Rising Star categories.
“In particular, the desire to innovate stands out among this year’s entries, with high streets adapting to the challenges presented by a rapidly changing retail environment to find ways to thrive at a local level.
“As our research shows, high streets play a vital role at the heart of communities, so this is a great opportunity for those communities with shortlisted high streets to show their support by placing their votes on the Great British High Street website.”
Last year’s winner was Crickhowell High Street in Wales, located in a bustling rural town nestled in the Usk Valley on the edge of the Brecon Beacons.
It was commended for its community-led initiatives and strong network of independent businesses.
High Streets Minister Jake Berry MP said: “Congratulations to the shortlisted nominees for this year’s Great British High Street Awards – the quality of the entries this year has been fantastic.
“High streets make people happier, and people want to see their hard-earned cash supporting the local economy.
“That is why we are celebrating those that go above and beyond to keep their high streets thriving for generations to come.
“Inspiring high streets like these will play a key role in the Government’s vision to boost local growth and level up our regions.”
Shortlisted high streets – Champion High Street category
1. Hitchin Town Centre, Hitchin
2. Freeman Street, Grimsby
3. Belper Town, Belper
4. Turriff High Street, Turriff
5. Prestwick Main Street, Prestwick
6. Alness High Street, Ross-Shire
7. Narberth High Street, Narberth
8. Swansea High Street, Swansea
9. Treorchy High Street, Treorchy
10. Newtownards High Street, Newtownards
11. Enniskillen Town Centre, Enniskillen
12. Bow Street, Lisburn
Shortlisted high streets – Rising Star category
1. Wellington, Telford
2. Daventry Town Centre, Northamptonshire
3.Northwich Town Centre, Cheshire
4. Willesden Green, London Borough of Brent
5. Sir Isaacs Walk & Eld Lane, Colchester
6. Rochdale Town Centre, Rochdale
7. Dalton Road, Barrow in Furness
8. Yarm High Street, Stockton-on-Tees
9. Tankerton High Street, Whitstable
10. Market Street, Ashby de la Zouch
11. Aberfoyle Main Street, Aberfoyle
12. Kempock Street, Gourock
13. Falkirk High Street, Falkirk
14. Lanark High Street, Lanark
15. Cowdenbeath High Street, Cowdenbeath
16. King Street, Castle Douglas
17. The Square, Kelso
18. Palace Street, Caernarfon
19. Carmarthen Town, Carmarthen
20. Llanelli, Llanelli
21. Mold High Street, Flintshire
22. Triangle House, Welshpool
23. Pembroke High Street, Pembroke
24. Caldicot Town Centre, Monmouthshire
25. Armagh City Centre, Armagh
26. Newry High Street, Newry
27. Broughshane Street, Ballymena
28. Carrickfergus High Street, Carrickfergus
Members of the public can vote for their favourite finalist at www.thegreatbritishhighstreet.co.uk, with the public vote accounting for 20 per cent of the final scoring