This is a series of blog posts that I have been wanting to write for well over a year now (at which point I had my own bricks and mortar ladies clothing store) but was finally prompted to actually put some words on the screen, after events this Monday.
After twelve long weeks of being closed due to the Covid-19 lockdown, here in England "non essential" shops can now finally re-open. Whoo-hoo. Massive fanfare. About time.
In anticipation of this - and for around the last two weeks - we've had various "experts" and departmental ministers being interviewed on TV, telling us just how important it is for us to go out and support our High Street. Quite frankly, half the time they've looked really worried. And so they should be. We were sleepwalking into this little mess long before Coronavirus.
This behaviour IS NOT supporting the UK High Street
So, what was it that happened on Monday that got me so fired up (finally)? Put simply, it was the queues of shoppers lining the pavement outside.....Primark, Nike and - wait for it, here's the punchline - it's a good-un - JD f***ing sports. (I could wax lyrical here about giving Mike Astley my hard earned cash but hey, let's not go down that particular rabbit hole).
Now - and before I get pelted - let me say one thing. The big stores absolutely have their place. They always have and they always will. This blog post is not about bashing high street giants per se OR suggesting those who use them are Lucifer on his day off. However, anyone who thinks that filling three shopping bags full of Primark (more on them later) is supporting the UK High Street, is, quite frankly, deluded. Yes, deluded.
What we have here is not a case of happy customers or satisfied shoppers. No, it's actually addiction to mass consumption that is not just happening in retail but in virtually every area of our lives. And it's happening because that's what we've been trained to do, not least of all by social media. It just happens to be particularly toxic in fashion retail and it's putting many small independents in a stranglehold they just can't escape from.
But it's only part of the challenge .....
If you've ever watched those documentaries about plane crashes; you'll know that every disaster is never down to just one big problem but rather a chain of failures. It's no different with the demise of our High Street.
In Part 2 of this blog; I'll put forward what I believe are the contributing factors to the death of independent retail and in Part 3 what we collectively need to do to revive it. I hope you enjoy reading it.