You’re twelve years old, pennies rustling in your pocket and your sweet tooth is playing havoc with your cravings again. Ah, Woolworths, where better place to go for Pick’N’Mix on a Thursday afternoon. Fast forward to December 2008, and there are no white mice and strawberry gums, but instead a loss of 27,000 jobs.
This, for me, was the beginning of a string of unfortunate casualties, and no I am not talking about an episode of BBC one’s Causalty. What is happening to our stores? What does it mean for the future of the high street? It seems that the fall of Jessops, HMV, and Blockbuster have contributed to a high street that is now in fact, becoming rather a low street.
So what is new? Aside from new albums, new songs, new clothes, new electronics, all courtesy of the Web and the boom of online shopping, shoppers are now invited to feed their retail desires without having to even move away from the sofa. How convenient. The question we should be answering is instead, what is old? The answer is the now-old-fashioned approach to high street shop hopping, window glancing. There was no room for tapes once I had reached the age of 8, and now, its replacement, the CD is losing faithful investors, to a modern spree of downloading.
My concern, as an English student is that Kindles and eBooks will in the near future replace the public’s love of books. Biased, I admit, nothing satisfies my retinas and my mind as a full shelf of poetry and novels. Though that’s not convenient for the daily commute to work…unless you want to bring a suitcase of significant book choices. What is changing is not the consumer’s taste for the product themselves, but the way in which they can buy, and utilise the product. Phones doubling up as cameras, Mp3 players and iPods, and iPods doubling (with the right apps) up as cameras and the home of games, are just the tip of a very slopey, consumer-induced melting iceberg.
The products have not changed, apart from evolving at regular intervals, but the way we use them has. The shops in the high street up until now, have not changed as frequently, and so because it is beginning to now, the attention is drawn to the slaying of the high street.
However, the high street is not just home to shops. Restaurants, Off-licences, and Post Offices are all often inhabitants of the beloved H.S. Until the day comes that restaurants and cafes only serve lattes and spaghetti bolognaise through the Web, and the web only, there is a glimmer of hope left for the beloved High Street.