TENBURY is in the top 20 market towns in the country when it comes to the shopping experience, an independent survey has revealed.

The town ranked 15th in the UK in a mystery shopping exercise.

Independent shops in Tenbury were secretly assessed by trained market research professionals as part of a project commissioned by Advantage West Midlands.

After two visits each to 30 shops, the town’s overall score was rated at 84.2 per cent, higher than 50 other towns in the UK, including Gloucester and Cheltenham.

Individual shops performed very well, with 23 of the 30 scoring above the benchmark of 80 per cent.

Top of the shops was Books Books Books on Teme Street, which scored 96.1, closely followed by The Embroidery Shop on Market Street (95.1) and Little Sweet Shop on Teme Street (93.3).

“This survey proves what everyone in Tenbury Wells knows – our town has a great range of shops and services catering for the needs and wants of everyone,” said Richard Jones, Mayor of Tenbury.

“I urge Tenburians and our valued visitors to keep our town alive and thriving by thinking and shopping local. This town needs you”.

Brian Robert, secretary of Tenbury Chamber of Trade, said the findings gave traders coping with the recession a much needed boost.

“I hoped Tenbury would do well, but for the town to be placed 15th in the UK, easily in the top quarter of all the towns which have been assessed so far, is very pleasing.

“I have always known that retailers in Tenbury have a lot to offer to both residents and tourists, and these results have confirmed what a strong position we are in.”

More than 100 shoppers were also questioned about their experiences.

The majority (63 per cent) found Tenbury to have a good variety of shops, both independents and national chains. More than half (54 per cent) also said they had seen improvements to the town in the past two years, and 86 per cent found the town clean and tidy.

The final part was a town centre assessment, which looked at everything from parking provision to how easy it is to find amenities.

The assessor, who had never visited the town previously, found car parking easy, the public facilities clean and shops well presented.

“I am absolutely delighted with this news and the project as a whole,” said Councillor Phil Grove, leader of Malvern Hills District Council. “The town has been given a rigorous going-over by the same people who do mystery shopping for large national supermarkets as well as some of the biggest names in retail.”