Wednesday, 21 September 2011

The end of the high street?

Our High Streets are being ravished by an infectious disease, which is spreading from town to town like wildfire, catalysed by the infamous recession, and probably the rise of competitive internet shopping. The disease? Repetition.

Increasingly we are seeing the same chain stores popping up two or three times within the same high street or shopping area. Take York for example. Although it is classed as a city, it is no bigger than a large town. Within this town there are 2 Marks and Spencers stores, 2 Boots stores, 2 Superdrug stores, 2 New Look stores, countless Vodafones, Subways, Costa Coffees, Starbucks and Caffe Neros, and previously there were also 2 Next stores and 2 Clinton Cards, amongst others. To be fair, York has done well to retain a large amount of independent traders too, predominantly due to the touristy nature of the city.

Meanwhile, other previously booming high street stores are being relegated to out-of-town shopping areas-Mothercare being a prime example. These out-of-town shopping parks seem to be the only area of the retail industry that is expanding during the recession. Previously, trips to these places were reserved for visits to the DIY store, or perhaps for purchasing a new sofa.

Empty retail units are a common sight.
Only yesterday, the gloomy voice of a Radio 2 newscaster announced to the airwaves that in some areas of Britain, 1 in 3 retail units is now empty. As some of the high street brands become casualties of the recession, perhaps most famously Woolworths, competition is dwindling. Other brands are stepping up to take a monopoly on the high street, allowing them to increase their prices massively without having to worry about matching their previously dominating competitors, and leaving consumers no choice but to pay higher and higher prices for the most basic of items.

Woolworths was one of the first victims of the recession.
Could this be the end of the high street? Only time will tell. But if we continue to shop online or out-of-town, it may well be.

Some local and independent traders remain resilient.

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