The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick Maker. Add to that the Post Office, Sweet Shop, Grocer, Newsagents and Hardware Shops, where have they gone in our Villages and smaller towns!
Social evolution changes I guess, it has to, Retail has to keep up with the trend and leaving things as they were would end up with very busy Bankruptcy Court Cases.
The demise of our Village Shops has already happened, along came Cars and the need for the little stroll down to the Shops, a chat with the Locals and often a cup of Tea in the Tea Rooms. Most Villages also had their own Doctor, on call 24/7, he or she knew everyone who lived there, their fears, their problems and more.
We’ve accepted that, it had to happen, but it would appear the same is taking place in our small to mid sized towns as well.
Again, the car has made a major mark in this trend, now we have the super size Retail Parks out of town, after all who wants to queue up around a Town then pay high car parking rates?
Out of town gives you easier access, free parking and in most cases offer you a selection of large spacious Stores which just about offer all you need from food to lawn mowers.
Even the Cinema has now taken up residence in such places and where they are, there’s also a mixture of reasonably priced Food Restaurants!
So where does that leave the Towns. Not very much in many cases; we have the Pound Shops, Charity Shops, Estate Agents, Banks, Building Society, the occasional Restaurant and a plethora of new privately owned Shops which upon seeing them, you wonder how long they’ll be there for.
The Town Centre itself has become a place for young folk to sit around and somewhere to be accosted by Commission based Sales People trying to sell you Direct Debits to various Charities or Double Glazing Companies etc.
The only good thing is when a Town has thus far kept the odd larger Store and doing your Shopping can be quite a quiet and relaxing experience!
Where’s it going to go? In my opinion the only turn round for the High Street, as we knew it, is bring the Retail Park feel into the Town Centre, but will Councils and Private Companies allow their Car Parks to become free…don’t think so!
Local planners need to look at access problems, as long as the Consumer is pretty dead set on using their Car rather than Public Transport, the Town Centre, the High Street and our Nation of Shopkeepers tag will soon be gone.