/ Death of the high street
Shoppers are deserting the high street in greater numbers than during the depths of the recession in 2009, creating a brutal climate that is putting thousands more retail jobs at risk.
The coming days will be crucial to the future of a handful of household names, including Mothercare and Carpetright, which are trying to persuade investors to make vital cash injections so they can jettison unwanted stores. There is also the spectre of job losses at Poundworld, the struggling discount chain, which is being cut adrift by its American owners.
Our closest proper high street, Penzance, is a bloody mess. It has 14 charity shops, five pasty shops, a couple of banks, hairdressers, phone shops, emmet fodder shops, and a very tatty collection of small Co-op, Tesco, and Pound-stretcher shops.
It also plays host to drunk street drinkers, buskers, junkies and some threatening Chavs. This is obviously not good for a tourist town, so the council, in it's infinite wisdom, answer to this is to remove the seats that the ner-do-wells use.
We use the street for charity shop bargains, and not a lot else.
What's it like down your way?
Chorlton is pretty good. Plenty of bars
Got a good Oxfam bookshop where I get most of my books from.
> What's it like down your way?
Sadly you will find its not too dissimilar in many towns - the rise in the hypermarket supermarket type place, out of town shopping areas and the internet means that Town Centres are largely a disgrace - charity shops/phone shops/pound shops and then, if you are lucky, niche/local business shops who soon get priced out by the high rent the councils charge for Town Centre areas - and then wonder why they soon become deserted
Pasty shops - you mean Greggs, right?
Is it not this way because the rents are too high? Surely there needs to be a realignment of the high street rental market to allow shops to thrive? And business rates too, I guess?
I'm afraid thats the future.
Mrs P and I have been to Canada three times over the last few years and in all the medium/large sized towns we visited the main shopping centre was an out of town centre retail park with all two or three big stores.
Virtually all the the shops in the nearest town were various specialist shops, such as craft shops, the odd clothing shop and other small specialist retail shops. No food shops, no newsagents, etc.,
I guess there's no point in swimming against the tide.
> Pasty shops - you mean Greggs, right?
Wash your mouth out with soapy water!!
This is based on visits a few years ago now, but I spent some time in both Penzance and Truro and I found the contrast quite marked. Truro seemed a vibrant place, decent range of shops, clean streets; it felt like people cared about it. Penzance seemed to have a shop for every charity I heard of and many I hadn't, the streets were untidy, bins full, litter blowing in the wind. The last city in England could have, should have been a joy, but instead it seemed to have distilled everything that was wrong with the British high street.
As I left Penzance I saw a young woman, heavily pregnant, puffing away on a roll-up. That sight summed up everything that seemed to be wrong with Penzance.
Pretty accurate description. Pz suffers from being "the end of the line".
Does the Council own a lot of retail premises in your area? A very unusual situation.
Playing devils advocate somewhat, a lot of high-street businesses don't really help themselves by only being open 9-5 during the week, when the vast majority of the spending population is at work.
If more of them opened later in the evenings, enabling people to pop in after work, they may find that they get more trade. This is particularly true of local Butchers/Green Grocers who I'd love to be able to use, but they simply aren't practical options during the week.
If more people were working later in business that stay open later when would they have the time to go shopping?
Agree fully. Just one late night opening a week would mean I could almost entirely avoid supermarkets for food, as I would much prefer. As it is, I have no choice but to use them mid-week. It's a real pity as our high street has pretty much everything, and excellent butcher, baker and greengrocer.
> Chorlton is pretty good. Plenty of bars
and cafe's and restaurants which is what the high street has become. I guess there are other shops as well, but it is very food/drink heavy.
> Got a good Oxfam bookshop where I get most of my books from.
I buy most of the children's books from the Chorlton Bookshop, lovely shop.
Things were great until the council removed my bench...
Seriously though, retail is in for a fairly cataclysmic year. Business rates certainly contribute to the problems high street retailers have, but the fundamental problem is that traditional retail sucks. Why would I walk 15 minutes to my high street, spend an hour trying to find what I need and then probably walking home again without finding it when I could have it at my door in an hour with Amazon prime?
Utility off-line retail is all but dead. The future of high street retail is providing experiences and a service that can't be replicated online. If you are a brand, you need to think about how you use your physical stores to offer something unique that allows your customers to engage with you. If you are a conventional reseller of brands, you should probably be working on your CV.
Our one, Portishead, is still pretty good. Hardly any chain shops. 4 or 5 charity shops but it's mainly independent businesses and it always seems busy. It even has an old style independent sports shop. I haven't seen one of those elsewhere for years! There's a good balance of pubs and independent cafes and has a few decent takeaways. It's also tidy and feels safe at night.
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