A MAJOR research project is underway aimed at helping retailers in Boscombe, Southbourne and Westbourne.

Bournemouth Coastal Business Improvement District (BID) has begun the initiative in conjunction with the town’s National Coastal Tourism Academy (NCTA).

They aim to find out more about who shops in Bournemouth’s “coastal villages”.

The two bodies have commissioned research company FSP to combine desk-based research with face-to-face interviews in the three areas. The results will give a detailed insight into why people are visiting the locations, how much they spend, what type of shops they use, and where else the people who live in the areas choose to shop.

Researchers were due to carry out the first set of 600 interviews per location this week, with another 300 due during the major holiday season.

The split is intended to identify the impact that visitors staying in Bournemouth have on the areas covered by the Coastal BID.

Alun Williams, Coastal BID manager, said: “We haven’t been able to find any reliable information on the shopping habits of people visiting Southbourne, Boscombe or Westbourne.

“So, to help local retailers, and to direct our own marketing campaigns we have funded, in conjunction with the National Coastal Tourist Academy, this new initiative. “FSP, who are managing the project, have been brilliant in advising us on best practice when it comes to the survey questions to ensure they will be comparable with other locations. “We are looking forward to sharing the results later this year with our BID businesses.”

Samantha Richardson, director of the NCTA, said: “This new research will provide reliable data into these elements of Bournemouth’s retail sector for the first time.

“Relevant, business-focused research like this is exactly the kind of project the NCTA was created to do. The results will give us real insight into the buying patterns of visitors from different areas of Bournemouth and working in partnership with the Coastal BID simply makes sound economic sense.”