A high street populated with thriving small independent shops attracts higher footfall and creates a greater sense of community than elsewhere, according to new research launched in advance of Small Business Saturday on 7 December.

The High Streets Ahead report was commissioned by American Express to highlight the important contribution of small businesses to local communities.

Some 82% of residents who live close to a high street with independent businesses say they recognise or know the people who serve them in their local shops – compared to 59% in other areas. One in 10 say they ‘consider many of them as friends’.

Almost half (46%) of those living close to thriving independent businesses agree that their ‘local high street is at the heart of their community’, compared to just 25% in other areas.

Residents in areas with a higher density of small, independent businesses also visit their local high street more frequently and spend more of their annual retail budget shopping locally – 21% versus 6% elsewhere.

The report, by retail experts Conlumino, also found that diverse, flourishing high streets boosted local house prices, contributing an average £40,000 on nearby property prices over the past decade – 17% higher than the growth in comparable areas with fewer independent retailers.

“This report identifies what we’re calling the ‘Shop Small Effect’, which is the reciprocal benefit consumers can enjoy simply by supporting their local independent traders,” said Mark Roper, head of Merchant Services UK at American Express.

“Saturday 7 December is Small Business Saturday and we look forward to working alongside partners and other supporters to help make sure the day is a big success.”