Innovation in transport can help our High Streets

By Hemlata Narasimhan, SVP, Merchant, Europe

As more of us turn to online shopping, much has been asked about the future of our town centres. Recent research from YouGov (2019) shows there is still a huge opportunity for UK High Streets as 73% of British consumers like going into stores because of the immediacy of getting a product.[1]In short, the High Street remains a vital and desired part of our communities.

However, there are many factors that can negatively impact the shopping experience before consumers even reach the High Street. These include mobility and transport challenges ranging from traffic congestion, overcrowding on public transport and limited parking facilities.

Barriers to High Street accessibility

While convenient and accessible transport is not the panacea for all challenges facing High Street businesses, technology can go some way to removing barriers preventing consumers from travelling to town centres and purchasing products there.

Travelling to the High Street can be a stressful, expensive and time-consuming experience – one which begins as soon as you leave home. For example, finding a convenient parking spot in a busy town centre can be very difficult. It’s not surprising our Future of Transportation study (2019) found 64% of people hate parking the most when it comes to driving. [2]

The experience can be just as frustrating when using public transport.  Queuing to pay with cash, late running and overcrowded services compromise the experience. Perhaps this is why over a third of baby boomers (35%) say they are put off using buses and subways/tubes because they are inconvenient.[3]

The solution: technology innovation

A better transport experience is the first step to encouraging footfall on the High Street. Whether that’s easier parking or reduced queues for tickets as commuters ‘touch to pay’, a smoother transit experience will go a long way in bringing consumers back to their High Street.

That’s why a crucial part of the work we do to support High Streets is partnering with innovators in the mobility sector to tackle these challenges.

For example, AppyParking, a Smart City Parking System, enables consumers to find available parking spaces, helping to reduce waiting times, fuel consumption and congestion. Their technology includes sensors that time the exact moment bays are occupied so consumers don’t overpay or get unnecessarily penalised. This could go a long way in solving many pain points for drivers. Alongside parking, a study commissioned by Visa highlighted the risk of getting a fine if you park longer than anticipated (44%) and paying more for parking time than needed (42%) are their top annoyances.[4]

When it comes to public transport, our research shows simple changes can make a big difference. The findings reveal a major issue for just under half of people in the UK (47%) is having to use different tickets for different modes of transport.[5] Moving from tickets to contactless removes confusion and ‘tap and pay’ means consumers can have the same issue on public transportation that they do in their favorite shops – they simply turn up and pay for what they use. No need to worry about buying a ticket or topping up a farecard. Plus, in cities with contactless plus fare capping mean consumers will get the best possible price to access their town centres. Town planners highlight how important access is to create a vibrant town centre showing the importance of developing tools that make journeys easier.[6]

Working with partners, we can help improve mobility across cities and town centres, and find solutions that make travelling more convenient. This will help more people travel to and from the High Street with ease and help town centres remain shopping destinations of choice.

Find out more about how Visa works with merchants here and read more about our partnerships in transit here.



[1] YouGov and Cybertill, 2019

[2] Future of Transportation Study, February 2019,

[3] Future of Transportation Study, February 2019,

[4] Future of Transportation Study, February 2019,

[5] Future of Transportation Study, February 2019,

[6] ‘Successful town centres – developing effective strategies’, Andres Coca-Stefaniak Association of Town & City Management, p.25

Tag: Digital commerce