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Shoppers give high marks to Solana Beach

SOLANA BEACH — Many residents would likely agree Solana Beach is a great place to live. According to a recent survey, the majority also see it as a pretty good place to shop and dine.
Of the 494 residents who responded to the survey conducted this past November and December, 92 percent said they patronized local businesses other than restaurants at least once a week, and almost 67 percent dined in the city’s eateries with the same frequency. In both scenarios, the majority gave the experiences a positive rating.
When deciding where to shop or eat — in Solana Beach or elsewhere — quality was the most significant consideration, with more than 60 percent of respondents rating it “extremely important.”
Slightly more than 47 percent of Solana Beach residents shopped or visited a local business, excluding restaurants, daily, or at least four times weekly, and 45 percent did so at least once a week. Of all respondents who frequented areas businesses, 83 percent rated the experience positively — 24 percent excellent and 59 percent good.
Residents patronized the city’s 55 eating and drinking establishments much less frequently than they shopped or visited businesses, with 15 percent dining out daily, or at least four times a week, and 52 percent doing so at least once per week.
About 80 percent of respondents gave their dining experience a positive rating — 25.5 percent deemed it excellent and 55 percent said it was good. “They did comment that there needs to be more variety of restaurants,” assistant City Manager Steve Didier said.
In fact, a lack of dining options was the No. 1 response given when residents were asked what they liked least about shopping and dining in Solana Beach, although older residents seemed more satisfied with the available choices.
When asked what they liked most about shopping and dining locally, more than half said convenience.
Survey respondents also included 91 Solana Beach business owners and managers, who said word-of-mouth, referrals and direct mail advertising were most effective in attracting customers. Interestingly, merchants felt newspapers were least effective, while residents rated them high when asked where they look for shopping and dining opportunities. Local publications rather than regional papers were a more popular choice for attaining this type of information.
Survey results show residents from higher income households — more than $100,000 annually — were less satisfied with shopping in Solana Beach, and they did so with less frequency. Middle income residents — $75,000 to $100,000 — shopped locally most often, while those from lower and middle income households were more likely to be satisfied with their experiences.
The survey indicated residents are generally satisfied with the local shopping experience. In fact, 27 percent had nothing negative to say about the city.
Full Capacity Marketing partnered with the city to conduct the survey online and through direct contacts at public events, parks and shopping areas. The results were evaluated by BW Research Partnership, an independent research firm.
The goal was to gather information for Shop Solana Beach First, a campaign encouraging residents to patronize local businesses to increase sales tax revenue so the city can “balance our budget with our own income,” City Manager David Ott said.
With approximately 13,500 people in the city, the respondents represent less than 4 percent of the population. Didier said that was considered good representation for this type of survey, and the consultants were satisfied with the results.