Note: Please bear in mind that whilst this topic does canvass opinions, it is not a fight club. You may disagree with other posters but we do ask you please to stick to our Talk Guidelines and to be civil. We don't allow personal attacks or troll-hunting. Do please report any. Thanks, MNHQ.

AIBU to think that high streets and small towns will be thing of the past?

(310 Posts)
Lonelybunny Sun 13-Jan-13 21:36:28

Well now due to Jessops going broke and clintons and woolworths our town has hardly any shops left. It's so depressing down there, do you think the only shops left will be super stores, like asda and tesco? Maybe due to them selling everything and of course online shopping. I feel so bad for all the retail staff loosing jobs yet again.

BegoniaBampot Sun 13-Jan-13 21:39:14

Looks that way, all this online shopping definitely doesn't seem to be progress in this respect. Things change I guess, but it is quite sad.

Lonelybunny Sun 13-Jan-13 21:40:58

It is and I like to go out and look at things. Sometimes you buy online and it's not quite what you expected and you have all the faff of sending it back :-/

LostInWales Sun 13-Jan-13 21:45:15

We have a lovely little market town with a high street with shops and independent bakers and butchers etc, ok there are more charity shops than there used to be but it is still lovely. I suppose it helps that we are too far from the busy world that big chains never bothered with us really anyway. Some of the empty buildings have been bought by a community type group (local people bought shares and saved them from being sold to corporations) so now we have a lovely farmers market and some cheaper parking. Maybe from being pushed out to the edge this will creep back into the mainstream again, the gap left by these large corporations will be filled by quirkier, smaller retaliers?

mrsjay Sun 13-Jan-13 21:47:41

me and dh was speaking about this earlier there is nothing really in our town centre no shoe shops (except clarks) no this no that they have all closed, we have the usual primark Mn s etc it is quite depressing isn't it ,

TheSecondComing Sun 13-Jan-13 21:48:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

elizaregina Sun 13-Jan-13 21:49:38

depends on the town.....some towns are thriving - but they are attractive- well heeled etc...nice to visit in thier own right down to architecture etc..

bigbluebus Sun 13-Jan-13 22:17:21

Our local town is doing well - lots of small independent shops opening. Still only 2 Charity shops - which are the same 2 that have been there for the last 20 years. And it has a weekly market and thriving monthly farmers market Yes, shops have closed, but others have opened in their place - and we don't live in a 'well heeled' area.
I think the secret is, we are in a rural area, We are 15 miles from the next reasonable sized town and 20 miles from a large town - which incidentally is also seeing lots if independent shops doing well, and lots of nice coffee shops opening inspite of having the usual Costa, Starbucks and Cafe Nero.

Public transport is infrequent.Many people have cars, but there are many who don't Oh, and Tesco tried to open a large out of town store, the public fought it and won!!!!

Lonelybunny Mon 14-Jan-13 08:07:06

We have a market and farmers market but it never really seems that busy :-/ we have an m&s, Clarks, wilko's pond land and a small Sainsburys and now they are opening a co-op . But we have a large tesco about 5/6 miles away and an asda and retail parks! Can you believe I couldn't even get my daughter some baby vests in our town they didn't have her size ! It's just hopeless

kim147 Mon 14-Jan-13 08:11:12

Seems like whenever a shop shuts down in York, it gets replaced by Tesco Express.

Luckily we still have a lot of independent shops - and I'd like to believe some things can't be bought by online and people will still enjoy browsing, touching and trying on stuff.

catgirl1976 Mon 14-Jan-13 08:59:20

Our town still has lots of independents (and a Tesco Express, Clarks, Cafe Nero, Greggs in terms of chains) but there are more empty shops than their used to be and more charity shops. The really nice Deli has gone, as has the Greek restaurant and a florist.

The (slightly bigger) next town is doing worse and one of those "cash your gold" shops has opened up which I think is a real sign of how bad things are

YouOldSlag Mon 14-Jan-13 09:04:17

YANBU. What I find sad is that retail parks are booming but they have none of the atmosphere of a High Street.

All the good shops seem to be leaving the High Street and popping up three miles out of town with a giant car park. This also increases car use. Instead of ctahing a bus or walking to your nearest high Street, you now need a car to drive out of town.

I love High Streets- you can try on clothes, smell perfumes, listen to buskers, bump into people you know, sit on a bench.... out of town malls ain't the same.

BunFagFreddie Mon 14-Jan-13 09:08:59

The nearest small town to me is in a grim state. Vacant shops, pound shops and charity shops, although the butchers and green grocers are doing well.

As someone elsle pointed out, the naice little towns are ok, but this is a run down old mining town that is rather looked down upon by local people. There's actually nothing wrong with it and people are just being snobs, but it's just very grey and not as pretty as other places round here.

I think there needs to be some sort of drive to get the local economy going again in small towns. People moan abot people on benefits, but you can't have it all ways.

Lonelybunny Mon 14-Jan-13 09:09:26

Exactly, I actually don't go into my town much now as I find it boring and depressing !

StripeyBear Mon 14-Jan-13 09:09:34

YANBU - horrible huge retail parks are the massive fail of 1980s/1990s planning.

BunFagFreddie Mon 14-Jan-13 09:10:09

Car parking is another problem. The local council have abolished the free parking in this small town, so people are less likely to visit the shops there.

echt Mon 14-Jan-13 09:11:25

YANBU, and I noticed this when I left the UK 6 years ago, and it has become more pronounced.

A very nice aspect of Australian life is the the number and variety of independent traders on suburban shopping strips. Of the 50+shops at my local centre, bar the banks, only 2 shops are part of a chain. Of course there a gazillion coffee shops/cafes, but then this is Melbourne.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Mon 14-Jan-13 09:12:52

Until town teams and chambers of commerce, crucially with the support of councils and government, can do something meaningful, YANBU. High rates + high taxation + high parking charges = dead town centres. And that's not even taking into account the internet and out of town shopping centres.

ANd don't get me started on charity shops which pay greatly reduced rates if any. They are supposed to sell second hand stuff, whereas places like RNLI shops are selling new things, thereby competing unfairly with "normal" shops. If you see a high street full of charity shops, you know its on a downward spiral.

People still want to shop in town centres. But in these hard times, if they are being charged £7 a time to park (a figure quoted on another thread yesterday), why will they?

milf90 Mon 14-Jan-13 09:15:55

I think electrical, book, DVD shops etc will all go as you can usually get cheaper offline and you know what to expect.

I think clothes shops will take longer to go (if they go at all) because people like/need to try stuff on to see why suits them - plus what else are you goin to do as a teenage girl at the weekends ;)

Lonelybunny Mon 14-Jan-13 09:16:39

We are charged £1.30 for an hour parking. Believe me you won't be there an hour there is nothing there to do !

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Mon 14-Jan-13 09:16:39

Sorry that first sentence ought to have been "Until town teams and chambers of commerce, crucially with the support of councils and government, are prepared do something meaningful....

e.g. cutting down parking charges to a minimum or nothing.
organising initiatives to make town centres look more appealing e.g. picking up dog crap and litter, organising hanging baskets, doing something about anti-social behaviour.
Town centres need to be made places where people want to be.

Jins Mon 14-Jan-13 09:20:41

High streets won't be a thing of the past but they will inevitably change.

I can't bear the current high streets with the predictable M&S, Topshop, Body Shop, WHS, Boots etc. I can get all that online or by going out of town. I am one of those people who have stopped High Street shopping because you could be anywhere. On holiday recently we stayed in a small town that was doing very nicely with a wide range of independents who had taken over the JJB, Clintons units. Fantastic and very busy kitchenware shop, better by far than Lakeland, loads of bakers and butchers, independent pharmacies etc. It was fabulous. When I compare that to my High Street with endless phone shops, Boots and M&S I know where I'd rather be.

If Local Councils manage to get it together to make units available at reasonable cost and encourage schemes to attract people to the High Street (parking etc) then I think High Streets have the potential to return to what they should be.

elizaregina Mon 14-Jan-13 09:23:04

also where we are there is a grotty ugly town - with v difficult parking, no great shops - loads of charity shops and its surrounded by beautful attractive old towns. the council seem to make one mistake after another re the town allwoing these huge plastic amercian type things go up, and they are plain ugly.

Alot of the shops front have been ruined by allowing plastic facing at the front......I was horrified when I went to an attracitve smaller town near me and saw a HUGE NASTY plastic frontage - on a classic moslty wooden street screaming AGE CONCERN!!!! It stands out like a sore thumb.

Now Age Concern should be made to keep thier frontage in line with that of the bloody street....if every shop on that street did what age concern did - you are on your way to uglifying that pretty little street too - and detroying that!

Pilfette Mon 14-Jan-13 09:23:06

We're up to, I think, 4 Tesco Express, as well as a Morrisons, Tescos 'proper' and a brand new Sainsburys. Our high street is just surviving, helped by being a seaside town that gets a fair amount of tourist trade in the summer. We just about have an independent fruit and veg shop even though the prices are extortionate and the usual Superdrug etc chain shops. What stunned me recently was the stock levels on most of the shop's shelves - there seems to be very little, I guess the days of carrying a lot of surplus stock are long gone? That said, a local coffee shop has recently opened and seems to be doing good business even though it's only 3 doors away from a Costa. That in itself gives me some cause to hope smile

Kahlua4me Mon 14-Jan-13 09:23:14

It does amaze me that nobody saw this coming, to be honest. When the retail parks and online shopping arrived everybody chose to be to them instead of their local town.

The local shops simply could not cope with the drop in footfall along with increasing rates from councils and that has led to empty shops and bleak towns.

I think all of us need to make a concerted effort to buy locally and eventually it will pick up again.

BunFagFreddie Mon 14-Jan-13 09:25:58

"also where we are there is a grotty ugly town - with v difficult parking, no great shops - loads of charity shops and its surrounded by beautful attractive old towns. the council seem to make one mistake after another re the town allwoing these huge plastic amercian type things go up, and they are plain ugly. "

Do we live in the same place elizaregina?

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Mon 14-Jan-13 09:26:33

People did see this coming.

We just didn't care enough. People will always think will their wallets unless they are well off enough not to notice how much they are spending on groceries.

elizaregina Mon 14-Jan-13 09:30:48

yes but to have a thriving high street you dont nessacarily need groceries...altough it would have been lovely to retain them.

i know of an amazing high street just outside a pretty town up north that has a game buthcer - a fish monger - a normal butcher - several grocery shops - attractvive - some nice independant shops thrown in - as well as pharmacies banks etc...its like something out of harry potter - its wonderful,....prices are average and its very busy.

elizaregina Mon 14-Jan-13 09:31:33

bunfag - maybe! BUt sadly lots of places seem to be like this.

Renniehorta Mon 14-Jan-13 09:31:34

*depends on the town.....some towns are thriving - but they are attractive- well heeled etc...nice to visit in thier own right down to architecture etc..

This describes where I live exactly. The town centre took a dip in 2008/9 but since then has bounced back. There has been plenty of closures and opening of shops but the high street is usually packed.

There is a thriving weekly market which attracts people into to the town, but also people enjoy the attractive surroundings and range of independent shops. I certainly used to come shopping here before I moved here. There is also a large number of restaurants and cafes, a theatre and an arts centre. So there is much more to our high street/ town centre than just shopping.

The vitality of the high street is very much part of the attration of living here.

YouOldSlag Mon 14-Jan-13 09:33:49

My hometown is thriving, but then there is plentiful free parking, regular buses, eating places, litter bins, and flower beds. The neighbouring larger town, however, has died on its arse due to parking charges, high rates, empty shop fronts, big chains going out of town, and a general air of seediness.

It is down to councils to take a hit in order to increase the local economy. Greedy councils are afraid to provide reduced rates, increase bus routes or provide free parking, yet when they do, town centres can really thrive and make money again.

TheFallenNinja Mon 14-Jan-13 09:38:33

YANBU. The high street is going to die as people don't want to buy stuff then lug it for miles to the car park. It's simple logistics. On the retail park your large items go from the store straight to the car and your away.

This is what killed Woolies

elizaregina Mon 14-Jan-13 09:38:37

our council is notioursly greedy - thier taste is also highly owners are always in our local paper moaning about business rates and they have tried to introduece a new way of parking that has fallen flat on its arse.

and we have an unbeliveble mass of office building going on - that then sit empty with to let signs for years.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Mon 14-Jan-13 09:39:10

I think what these thriving towns have in common is that they have in charge of them people with imagination and vision, who take the long term view rather than the grabbing-the-cash-while-they-can view.

It is down to councils to take a hit in order to increase the local economy. Greedy councils are afraid to provide reduced rates, increase bus routes or provide free parking, yet when they do, town centres can really thrive and make money again.

Exactly that. And if it so obvious to us and people like us, why is it so hard for them to see? <baffled>

BunFagFreddie Mon 14-Jan-13 09:41:23

They've been making an effort with the grotty town near me. I don't think hanging baskets and new bicycle racks are going to cut it though.

The employment situation is also grim. The council keeps planning a new development to get businesses and jobs back there. Unfortunately, every time this happens the local eco warriors (middle class doo gooders, with more money than sense) start hoiking their bosoms and complaining. But, they don't actually like the town and wouldn't be seen dead there, because they might catch 'working class'.

A species of rare bat, or some obscure beetle is always found, so it puts things on hold. hmm

This is what smaller towns are up against.

OwlLady Mon 14-Jan-13 09:42:39

the council needs to stop charging for short stay parking in these towns, imo

my closest large town is depressing in the extreme

freddiefrog Mon 14-Jan-13 09:43:50


When we moved here 10 years ago our nearest town centre was lovely. Lots of small independent shops, butchers, a bakers, independent clothes and shoe shops. It was a really lovely mix.

Over the years more and more shops have gone and we're left with New Look, Next, H&M, millions of charity shops, loads of chain coffee shops, several £1 shops and an awful lot of empty shops.

We don't have a retail park here and no really massive supermarkets - a Sainsbury's but it's fairly small and a Tesco miles away so I don't think they can be blamed.

Here, I think it's a combination of extortionate parking charges, extortionate public transport costs and Internet shopping.

Going into town is expensive before you even set foot in a shop so people are put off going. So many shops have gone, no one really bothers

It's become a bit of a viscous circle - the more people are put off using the high street, the less and less shops there are, which discourages people going into town, which means we lose even more shops. Town is dead so chains don't want to come here, independents struggle and close quickly so it's dying a slow death

I do 99% of my shopping online, the rare occasions I've gone into town, I've not been able to get what I want so end up online again anyway

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Mon 14-Jan-13 09:44:41

I don't think hanging baskets and new bicycle racks are going to cut it though.

No I agree. These things make a town look cared about though, which is the start of the battle.

CMOTDibbler Mon 14-Jan-13 09:51:34

I live in a very small town, but it is thriving - we have bakers, deli, fish shop, butchers, greengrocers, cafes and lots of other indie shops. We have good parking, and it starts at 50p for 1/2 an hour, but there is a block of free parking right in the middle of town that people use for popping in.
We also have a 3 day a week indoor market that is brilliant

elizaregina Mon 14-Jan-13 09:56:26

the frustrating thing for me is - I am quite sure with some re jigging a little bit of expenditure and large vats of paint - some carpenters - I could make our town look really nice !

LtEveDallas Mon 14-Jan-13 10:10:53

I was pissed off atraight after Christmas that the only shoe shop in town has now gone. There is now no reason for me to go to town, except maybe to Argos.

We lost Adams, and then the independant kids clothing shop. If I had a specific need (like school shoes for the New Year, or clothes for DD) then I could go to town and would browse the other shops - generally coming home with something.

Now if I want anything for DD I have to drive 20 / 40 or 45 minutes to the next biggest towns, so I may as well go to the Tescos Extra or Asda Wallmart and do everything in one shop.

It sucks, but I honestly cannot see a way around it.

TameGaloot Mon 14-Jan-13 10:29:38

Our town seems to be doing well. In fact we have recently had another butcher open. On one road there is a post office, a solicitors, butcher, a fishmonger, several decent gift type shops, a health food/herbal place, another butcher, an optician, a green grocer/grocer, a baker and a charity shop. Seems a good balance to me. That's not even the Main Street

Ours is OK too, more empty units than there used to be but still have two butchers, two greengrocers, independent hardware, sweet shop, toy shop, various arty crafty ones. It's not a particularly "naice" town but it isn't deprived either, again I think the reason is that it is a good 20 min drive to the next big town and poor public transport so people still use the high street regularly, I still shop there at least once a week despite working in the big town, because it is easy and right on my door step. Also no retail park here.

TheDuchessOfEarl Mon 14-Jan-13 10:35:56

We've generally got quite a good high street here - great butchers, green grocers, bakers etc. But we also have too many charity shops (and I say this as someone who loves a rummage), loads of hairdressers & more estate agents than we know what to do with.

One of the biggest problems I can see is that we have loads of lovely little vanity shops - craft shops, antique shops (and until recently a specialist dog food shop - yes really!) and these are lovely to visit and bring people into the area. But, day to day shopping is actually quite hard meaning we have to go to the small Co-op, Tesco Express or Sainsbury's Local (which are literally within 3mins of each other).

It's all well & good having nice independent stores but they must serve the people of the town or they're a waste of space.

Great service from our independents though. Last year I was in our local toy shop during a blizzard and the owners suggested I might want to stay and have a coffee until the snow eased. I bet you don't get that in ToysRUs

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Mon 14-Jan-13 10:41:34

Can I ask where these towns which are doing well are located? Roughly. Would be interested to find out....

TheSecondComing Mon 14-Jan-13 10:44:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

elizaregina Mon 14-Jan-13 10:45:08


Becasue you have good foot fall I wonder if grocers and the like now opened if they also wouldnt do well...

I would LOVE a proper butchers near me....

CMOTDibbler Mon 14-Jan-13 10:46:48

My town is Worcestershire - and similarly to others mentioned, its a decent drive to other places to shop, so people do their regular shopping here, and as a very small town everything is together, and the whole town is in walking distance of the shops. And friendly, so they cater well for the elderly and those with small children

TameGaloot Mon 14-Jan-13 10:47:05

N norfolk for mine

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Mon 14-Jan-13 10:48:29

I'm also wondering where (roughly) TheSecondComing's town is.

Sounds as though the local authority is shit with a capital SH.

OwlLady Mon 14-Jan-13 10:49:49

my town is a bit like thesecondcoming's we have cash your cheque shops, prmiark, 2 icelands, b&m, a hundred and one charity shops, bodycare, cheap shoe shops, depressing cafes

OwlLady Mon 14-Jan-13 10:50:36

my smaller town is the complete opposite with loads of expensive shops that I just can't afford confused the butcher is okay though as they sell cheap game

quoteunquote Mon 14-Jan-13 10:54:00

Ours is Hampshire. Yes, as well as being remote to bigger towns and no retail parks, no one lives more than about a mile from the centre, also there are three primary schools within 10 mins walk of the town centre, that probably helps as a lot of us parents who live further out combine school run walks with popping into town. There is a large supermarket immediately behind the High Street, a lot of people park there and walk through to the High St shops too.

TiggyD Mon 14-Jan-13 11:06:30

We should go back to the good old days when you would go to the butcher and queue then pay for your meat. Then go to the fishmonger to queue and pay for your fish. Then go to the greengrocer to queue and pay for your greens. Then go to the hardware store to queue and pay for your hardware. Then go to the opticians to queue and pay for your eyes. Then go to the stationery shop and queue and pay for your paper. Then go to the newsagents to queue and pay for your paper. Then go to the off licence to queue and pay for you gin. Then go to the electrical shop to queue and pay for your iPod accessories. Then go to the post office to queue and pay for stamps. Then go to the recycling to queue and recycle your things.

In the old days when you went to the shops it took ages, but it didn't matter because the woman did it and it's not like she had a job. I can pop into Tescos on my way back from work and get and entire weeks shop in half an hour.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Mon 14-Jan-13 11:12:25

TiggyD, I'm sure you are being deliberately obtuse.

That is not what the people on this thread are advocating and you know it. It's not even what the thread is about.

magimedi88 Mon 14-Jan-13 11:19:45

My nearest town, Eastbourne in Sussex, is dying on its feet. The latest closure is Blacks & I was told it is because the rent ( not from council) is up with London rates.

The council started a weekly farmers' market & then decided not to run it in Jan & Feb - for 'elf & safety reasons - FFS!

Also, apparently companies will own a portfolio of shops & it can pay, in terms of tax rebates, to keep shops empty. If this is true, it is terrible news for high streets.

TiggyD Mon 14-Jan-13 11:19:48

Things change. Supermarkets and internet shopping is better for many people therefore they will do well at the expense of their competitors, the high street little shops. The old days are gone because the old days were crap.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Mon 14-Jan-13 11:22:07

What do you propose doing with high streets then?

Can you justify "the old days were crap" any more?

TiggyD Mon 14-Jan-13 11:31:00

" I can pop into Tescos on my way back from work and get and entire weeks shop in half an hour. "
And then there's the opening hours. How convenient only being able to go shopping during working hours or on Saturday. Not Wednesday afternoon of course, as the shops were shut then.

I'm not proposing doing anything with the high streets. I'm just saying that most of my shopping will be done in supermarkets, as most other people will. I am not trying to set myself up as 'High Street Tsar'.

TiggyD Mon 14-Jan-13 11:31:50

Why were the shops better in the old days?

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Mon 14-Jan-13 11:33:28

Because they were open?

Graciescotland Mon 14-Jan-13 11:43:18

I live out in the sticks and our local town is lovely, very tourist driven though with lots of high end cafes, independent boutiques, a fab but expensive deli, an amazing fish and chip shop and even an ironmongers there is a coop express but that's it in terms of modern high street. I don't think there's even a charity shop. The local business enterprise and town council are very active though and I think they've worked really hard to keep it naice.

I do shop online but I try and give as much business to the town as we can, so meat comes from butcher and we buy petrol at the local independent which has a handy garage attached. I think if you want to keep services local then you have to use them. Otherwise you don't get to be surprised when they close.

TameGaloot Mon 14-Jan-13 11:44:13

I don't know actually I think we are taking a step backwards
Look at the people on tv
Jimmy Doherty
The baker boys
James Wong

There's a definite trend towards going back to roots, knowing where your product comes from and wanting it produced by someone with knowledge and skill.

YouOldSlag Mon 14-Jan-13 11:46:47

Tame- Whilst I do agree with you, shoppers are also price driven. Shopping for local and organic produce is often beyond the means of many who have to keep an eye on the budget.

TiggyD Mon 14-Jan-13 11:54:46

ArielThePiraticalMermaid But they weren't open. In the old days they opened in working hours and Saturday (But not Wednesday afternoon). You are wrong. Even now the only shops that are open in my town when I come back from work are the mini co-op and a few small expensive corner shops.

The high street shops tend to be knowledgeable about their products and have top quality, but you do pay for that.

TheDuchessOfEarl Mon 14-Jan-13 12:05:48

TiggyD - yes it's conveient for you to pop into Tesco on your way home from work now, but the style of business model companies like Tesco, Asda et al work to means that eventually they will close the store which is handy for you & build a super deluxe store 20/30 miles away. So you'll have to use that.

It'll be far less convenient then I can assure you.

I would imagine that once all the smaller shops closed down they'll decdie that they don't actually need stores anymore and close down the super deluxe meaning we all have to shop online. Some people (the elderly in particular) will go weeks without speaking to another human being (except the delivery driver of course). Local high streets are a god send to some people in terms of human contact.

Supermarkets & out of town stores alienate people and take people a step further away from the food they eat & products they buy.

Astley Mon 14-Jan-13 12:07:30

TSC's town sounds like Altrincham.

Mandy2003 Mon 14-Jan-13 12:14:06

YY Duchess

With the rising cost of fuel, will out-of-town retail parks seem so attractive to shoppers in the near future? Local councils have learned to become reliant on the income from town centre/high street parking. This is a shame because if it was suddenly made free everywhere then shoppers would move back to visiting the high street.

garlicblocks Mon 14-Jan-13 12:17:46

This town's weird. It's pretty in parts - mediaeval, in an agricultural setting - and has been dying for a very long time. The centre's a mixture of charity shops, decay, quirky independents and antique/second-hand shops. It could be so much more; it still has things going for it! But we have a local authority that says "No" first, then demands a fee ... it persistently invests in out-of-town developments with serious flaws (like being built on a flood plain, for one example,) permits rectangular new builds enclosing old buildings and alleys, hikes up rates and charges to independent traders and imposes parking fees.

They're doing it all backwards, in my opinion. But senior council officers do seem to be very well off hmm

lljkk Mon 14-Jan-13 12:28:23

(very keen to know where TameGaloot is as I am also in N Norfolk)

Near to me I would say

thriving: Wymondham, Cromer, Aylsham, Holt

okay: Sheringham

struggling: Stalham, North Walsham

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Mon 14-Jan-13 12:31:45

Tiggy, no one as you initially seemed to be claiming, is arguing the case for going back to the "olden days". I don't know why you keep going on about that. They are arguing for local authorities to do more to encourage thriving high streets today and now. Having a thriving high street does not mean that you, personally, are prevented from shopping at Tesco's on your way back from work.

As you well know, I was not saying that high street shops were open all hours, to which you said no they were closed on Sundays and Wednesday afternoons (which was incidentally when they did their accounts and stock takes). I meant that they were open as in not out of business which is what the situation is like now.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Mon 14-Jan-13 12:32:56

And Duchess is absolutely right about timescales. You only have to look at the Wal-Mart model in the States.

TameGaloot Mon 14-Jan-13 12:33:51

You mentioned where I am

A lot of our high street is owned by the same company
I guess it's an old fashioned department store

TameGaloot Mon 14-Jan-13 12:35:05

I will be interested to see how Sheringham does with the new tesco
I was saddened when it finally went through

bigbluebus Mon 14-Jan-13 12:49:24

Tame I am saddened to hear that Tesco has finally succeeded with its application to build in Sheringham. As a regular visitor to N Norfolk, we were delighted that the residents had fought and won for so long.
As mentioned up thread, our town has fought Tesco due to their arrogant attitude in the small store that they have had in the town for years when they applied to build a big out of store town. Tesco lost, but Sainsburys which applied at a similar time and whose store was to be built much closer to the High Street, was very much supported.
There is a belief that the Sainsburys store will bring more people into town, and so far the Chamber of Trade is talking positively about the effects (although it only opened at start of December, so time will tell).
Even knowing that Sainsburys was coming, there were new food shops opening in the town and the electrical retailer says they had their best Christmas ever.
I think it is down to geography and also the mindset of people living in the towns. Shopping is still a social activity for many around here - you rarely walk down the High Street without bumping in to someone you know, and the customer service in the bakers, butchers etc if far better than you would get in any supermarket.

TheSecondComing Mon 14-Jan-13 12:52:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

madmayday Mon 14-Jan-13 12:57:05

I live down the road from a retail park. Over the last year or two, whoever owns it got a company in to replace all the signs and shop fronts/entrances to make everything match and make the place look less shabby. Presumably the idea was to increase revenue by making the area look more aesthetically pleasing and admittedly, it does look rather nice. Unfortunately, the retail park was home to a Comet, a JJB sports and a Best Buy. So there are now three huge, pretty but completely empty and sorry-looking stores just wasting space, which kind of renders the whole project a bit of a failure.

And don't even get me started on my local high street! Plenty of banks, charity shops and cash-converter type places and not much else! I always find it saddest when pubs/clubs/restaurants close (which they do often) - there are nearly no entertainment venues left where I live. :-(

elizaregina Mon 14-Jan-13 13:04:15

but Tiggy - lots of high streets are still thriving. Its just a combination of factors as mentioned up thread thats killing some off...personally i definalty think there is a place for supermarkets - but unfortunalty with thier buying power - thier underhand tactics etc its a shame that they are monoploising places everywhere...

lljkk Mon 14-Jan-13 14:48:39

Tesco in Sheringham will be built after local residents voted for it (by narrow margin) in a referendum. Jobs are scarce up here, we don't get to be choosy. Unbelievable excitement about jobs at the new Waitrose at North Walsham.

Tame! I still can't figure out where you are (am I useless?), only Wroxham (thriving due to tourism) seems to be owned by just the one company (I will think hard).

I think Stalham was gutted by the Tesco there, but they are trying to reinvent selves as a hippy-dippy trendy scruffy corner of the Broads.

I reckon that richer towns are doing alright, but the poorer the town the harder the high street finds things. So it comes down to local wealth factors.

I can't believe how many closed-up shops there are in Norwich city centre, even in the malls.

TheSecondComing Mon 14-Jan-13 14:51:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Mon 14-Jan-13 15:08:17

Not to mention the automatic till points which they are installing everywhere.

Workfare is foul.

manicinsomniac Mon 14-Jan-13 15:12:51


But I don't think it's just the internet etc that is to blame, it's just a fact of modern day life. Nobody is free when shops are open any more so it has to be online or a big 24/7 type superstore.

thegreylady Mon 14-Jan-13 15:15:16

Shrewsbury is still lovely and so is Nantwich.

manicinsomniac Mon 14-Jan-13 15:21:50

Nantwich was terribly run down tha last time I went there?? (admittedly about 2 years ago)

TheSecondComing Mon 14-Jan-13 15:49:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

OwlLady Mon 14-Jan-13 16:13:09

I hadn't even realised that Nantwich had a town blush though to be fair I have only ever drove through it on the way to Chester.

This is a total aside, but does Dagfields still exist? I used to buy loads of furbiture from there back in the day <feels old>

GeorginaWorsley Mon 14-Jan-13 16:33:03

Nantwich grim?
Crewe maybe,but Nantwich full of thriving independant shops.
in Cheshire,I would say
Sandbach nice
Congleton grim
Winsford grim
Northwich ok
Tarporley nice
Alsager nice
Macclesfield getting grimmer!
Crewe horrible
Chester nice obv

Just my own opinion off top of my head!

GeorginaWorsley Mon 14-Jan-13 16:44:01

Oh Wilmslow and Knutsford ok grin

elizaregina Mon 14-Jan-13 16:44:48

shrewsbury, ludlow, chester all wonderful...

Bonsoir Mon 14-Jan-13 16:51:03

A lot of High Street failures are due to poor management by councils.

GeorginaWorsley Mon 14-Jan-13 16:56:00

Agree eliza

TheSecondComing Mon 14-Jan-13 16:58:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Geekster Mon 14-Jan-13 17:03:30

I think you are right. Every time I go into town another shop has closed down. They just can't compete with the online retailers and major supermarkets. I remember when I was a kid you could only buy a telly from an electric retailers shop, now you can nip to Tesco or order one from Amazon.

OwlLady Mon 14-Jan-13 17:03:43

I love Ludlow, it's one of my most favourite places in the whole world

that log burning shop <swoon> cannopt afford anything from there but well that's not the point

OwlLady Mon 14-Jan-13 17:04:48

can I just say it's not just northern places that are suffering. I live by Bedford and Luton, enough said <sigh>sad

GeorginaWorsley Mon 14-Jan-13 17:06:26

Yes tsc agree it seems the prettier and more well heeled places,especially if have a bit of 'history' thrown in,will do well.
From my travels grin out of Cheshire I liked

To name but a few....
Am sensing a theme though

Idiom Mon 14-Jan-13 17:07:13

It never ceases to amaze me that in our small town when one shop opens there is always someone ready to step up and give it a go. We have very few chain stores. We are 10 miles from a larger (but not massive) town and that is dying on its posterior, it's unbelievable what a difference those 10 miles makes.

TheSecondComing Mon 14-Jan-13 17:07:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

elizaregina Mon 14-Jan-13 17:10:49

absoluty not just northern towns suffering its all over the country.

TheSecondComing Mon 14-Jan-13 17:11:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

elizaregina Mon 14-Jan-13 17:12:45

my town i want to get in and out as quickly as poss - its dying - ugly etc etc etc....we drive to towns near us for " leisure" not neccasrily to buy but because they are pretty - nice store fronts - feel nicer than our town. our town is simply depressing and i loathe even going for a coffee there.

garlicblocks Mon 14-Jan-13 17:12:48

Agree, Bonsoir.

elizaregina Mon 14-Jan-13 17:17:01

the towns that are struggling need to me made attractive for people to want to linger in them and potter..

OwlLady Mon 14-Jan-13 17:19:48

or they need to be inventive, set up art initiatives or similar

I have a textiles degree and worked in the fashion industry. I am pretty sure I could, if given the opportunity, makes use of one of the empty spaces in bedford and run classes, sell on artwork etc. not even for myself but for other people. It doesn't actually have to be retail centric. Trouble is for me I don't have any money for rent or to set up and don't come from a naice well heeled family!

Apart from the growth of online shopping I think a combination of high rents, expensive public transport and high parking charges (although it is cheaper to park in the council run car park than in its neigbouring council who are money grubbers in the extreme) has decimated many a high street over the past decade or so.

My own high street is not bad, it is not too difficult to get parked and the parking charges are pretty reasonable but there are a lot of charity shops and chain coffee bars and only one supermarket now so there is less choice for the consumer. There are a couple of non chain hairdressers and an independent butchers which is doing well but the fishmongers shut up shop (due to higher rent charges).

Catriona100 Mon 14-Jan-13 17:25:42

Why has no one mentioned Mary Portas?

elizaregina Mon 14-Jan-13 17:26:19

people seem to be happier to pay a bit more to go somewhere that is attractive.

IfNotNowThenWhen Mon 14-Jan-13 17:26:39

High Streets are dying for several reasons.
Firstly the takeover of Tesco Metro and the like. They put smaller shops out of business on purpose.
Secondly the shit-ness of local shops. My local greengrocer just shut down. I was so frustrated with them, because I tried to be a customer, but half the time they were closed, their stuff was manky, the shop was unappealing looking and grubby, they lost veg box orders.
I would LOVE small shop owners to realise that they can use good window displays, lighting, and good service to make money, just like larger shops do, but too often they don't.
Thirdly, car culture is killing shops on busy roads with no parking.
Lastly, and most importantly the damn rents are too high. I once had a shop in a different country. I put down one months rent, and months deposit and I was in business,
Here you have to sign a long lease, pay shedloads upfront, and the rents are so extortionate that only chain stores and charity shops can meet them.
In some places the local councils have stepped in and negotiated lower rents with landlords so that small local business can thrive, but in most places it seems that councils and landlords would rather have high streets full of empty shops, than local independent businesses.
I reckon they think sooner or later Boots or MacDonalds will come along and pay the money. Meanwhile we have to live in ghost towns.

elizaregina Mon 14-Jan-13 17:27:59

I put down one months rent, and months deposit and I was in business

gosh i would open up shop and try it if it was that accesible.

IfNotNowThenWhen Mon 14-Jan-13 17:28:06

Yeah, catriona, that greengrocer that mary portas re-invented; that was a great example of how it can be done, but rents still really need to come down-a lot.

IfNotNowThenWhen Mon 14-Jan-13 17:29:10

Seriously eliza. Of course, I had to buy stock too, so it was quite an outlay, but do-able for sure.

elizaregina Mon 14-Jan-13 17:29:36

but still prettier places that people are happy to just walk up and down the high street still get more footfalll, and if you people walking up and down more chance of them actually buying even if they had no intention of doing so...

elizaregina Mon 14-Jan-13 17:31:49

we also have a nice town near us where a welll known property developer has brought up alot of shops and he is so rich it doesnt matter if they are rented he just makes money from the building going up. also rich enough to pay back handers to get nhasty office blocks built in the middle of fields!

elizaregina Mon 14-Jan-13 17:32:54

i know what you mean ifnotwhen,

there is an old guard of shop keepers who didnt have to work to get customers they havant moved with the times

manicinsomniac Mon 14-Jan-13 17:36:36

IfNotNow - I agree with your list but would add that they seem to close earlier and earlier as people work later and later. I'm sure 5.30 used to be closing time. Now it seems more likely to be 5 or even 4.

Almost everybody works nowadays so shops are essentially open during hours where they can't get any customers anyway!

IfNotNowThenWhen Mon 14-Jan-13 17:46:16

Tiggy D, don't know if you were just being daft, but since you ask "why are small indie shops better" I will answer:
At Xmas I ordered my joint of meat from my butcher. No difference in price to Tesco, but much better. I didn't have to queue (I am a busy lone parent with a job, not a housewife of yesteryear!).
I told the butcher the next time I went in how fab the beef was. If it had been rubbish I also could have told him, and he would have been apologetic (genuinely) and reimbursed me.
He recently started getting free range chicken thighs in just because I kept asking. I don't think Mr Tesco would do that for me. I don't think Mr Tesco gives a shit about his customers.

Also, when my local supermarket where I used to live was closed for a few months I started using the shops local to where I worked-baker, butcher, greengrocer.
I didn't have to queue-in fact I could call these shops on my way into work in the morning and ask them to set aside my order so that, in my lunch break I could pop in and pick them up.
I also saved a lot of cash, since I wasn't making impulse buys in the supermarket.
Aside from the fact that Tesco are basically evil (true fact) I actually find local shops, when they ARE good and convenient, quicker and easier.

Bonsoir Mon 14-Jan-13 17:52:06

I live in Paris where there are lots of independent food shops and I just love the fact that I can telephone my butcher/baker/greengrocer and ask them to prepare my order and deliver it. Independent shops, when they work well, provide service and products that are on a whole different dimension to the service offered by supermarkets.

ChristianGreyIsAJackass Mon 14-Jan-13 17:56:13

I run a local independant shop ( wont mention what because it might out me) in our town there is a fantastic butchers, cheese shop, bakery, coffee merchant, various clothes shops, a tailor and a fantastic hardware shop to name a few, all independant. The locals use us, tourists use us, repeatedly, but unfortunately there arent enough of either of those groups to keep us in business.
We had a great christmas, tourism was up and the locals were all spending locally, it was great, there was a gat atmosphere, but unfortunately we know the rest of the year isnt good enough to sustain the business.
Its very sad.

BunFagFreddie Mon 14-Jan-13 17:58:17

quoteunquote. I love the ethos of the Transition Movement in many ways. Unfortunately it's focused on the affluent areas round here, with an emphasis on really expensive renewable energy technologies for people's homes. It's very much dominated by the terribly middle class types who are rich in money and/or time. Or it is round here at least.

OwlCatMouse Mon 14-Jan-13 18:02:43

Our town is always heaving. Just a small market town, usual bunch of shops etc. The car parks are always full at the weekends and in the holidays its often too busy to bother going in!

Free parking in town though, I think that makes a huge difference

OwlLady Mon 14-Jan-13 18:12:24

I am glad us owls always agree on free short stay parking

Bonsoir Mon 14-Jan-13 18:12:29

Free parking and cafés encourage people into town and to linger. And the more they linger, the more they buy.

elizaregina Mon 14-Jan-13 18:23:03

free parking and cafes that are nice in a town that is attractive.

SparkyDudess Mon 14-Jan-13 18:33:47

How funny, I immediately thought TSC was talking about altrincham too!

I remember when it was a really busy high street - the Trafford centre put paid to that. Parking in altrincham at the time was £10 for anything over 2 hours, and by the time the council fixed that, the high street was dying. Add in the retail park in broadheath plus the huge tesco, and it'll never recover.

sherbetpips Mon 14-Jan-13 18:34:00

The village I live in is doing okay there has been some recent investment by some strong businesses but there are a few empty shops and four charity shops. I don't know if anyone has mentioned It but charity shops get reduced rates - no such thing is offered to new start ups.
Our town centre however is awful. It was built as a town centre, manufactured to be a shopping centre. It is a dull grey concrete hell hole and it will cost you £1 per hour (or £1.65 in the more accessible car parks thus making a nice extra 35p most times) to park there, there is nowhere to get cash to park. There is no reason to go there, within five miles you can go to every shop that is there. If it was shut down the local villages would benefit from increased local shopping. Yet still the stupid council plow money into it, whilst authorising the building of retail parks around it.

TheSecondComing Mon 14-Jan-13 18:38:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Astley Mon 14-Jan-13 18:39:13

TSC, the in laws live there or Hale as they prefer wink and every time we visit it gets worse and worse, it's just a massive Tesco and poundshops hmm The priblem is the proximity to Cheadle, the Traffford Centre, central Manc and numerous big retail parks.

louisianablue2000 Mon 14-Jan-13 18:43:07

I live in Co Durham and our town centre is doing OK, there are weekly markets plus more specialist markets throughout the year (farmers market, french market, christmas market) plus a covered market with several butchers, and grocers. There are three bakers in town making top notch bread (this is new in the last few years), and several independents selling top end groceries (nicel local cheese etc). There are lots of independent clothes shops and a lovely art shop and toy shop. The council has still made some mistakes though, when Waterstones and Borders merged they sold one of the shops and the council let the pound shop take over the old waterstones which was in a prime location. Tesco offered to build a new council building and turn the current building into a Tesco, thankfully there were so many objections that didn't happen, people were really worried it would destroy the covered market. But on the other hand the old Woolies has become an enormous Next which is popular. Oh, and there are lots of nice cafes, I'd never use a chain because there's a good choice of local options that are much better than Costa et al.

I think it helps that we are in an old market town with a stable population that likes to support local businesses and products (my PILs were here over Christmas and everything we had for breakfast: bread, butter, milk, honey, was made within 10 miles).

TheSecondComing Mon 14-Jan-13 18:50:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

fiftyval Mon 14-Jan-13 19:18:20

The council has still made some mistakes though, when Waterstones and Borders merged they sold one of the shops and the council let the pound shop take over the old waterstones which was in a prime location.
Just wanted to sound a note of reality regarding what is and what is not in the control of councils. Unless the council happens to be the landlord of a commercial property they have NO say as to who rents it unless a 'change of use' is involved. Poundland taking over a shop from Waterstones does not constitute a 'change of use' as they are both retailers. However , if it were Starbucks wanting to take over they would need to apply for change of use from A1 retail to A2 which would be a planning decision for the Local Authority. Only then, does a council get a say - and that is only in respect of what type of business and not which specific business.
Also, a number of people have mentioned business rates; central government sets the rates, councils collect the rates on behalf of central government. Your local council does not get to keep the rates.
Parking however - a whole different matter. The daft thing is that so many small towns have no control over parking - their Town Council probably doesn't own the car parks and will be at the mercy of the District Council who decides on parking and won't always 'know the town'.

MissBetseyTrotwood Mon 14-Jan-13 19:44:35

TheSecondComing is Fred's Deli still in Didsbury Village? I worked there many moons ago.

We use our local high street - but only the baker, the greengrocer and occasionally the chemist. It's in a rapidly gentrifying part of London and, tbh, the prices (and new shops) are ridiculous. It's all overpriced vintage tat in the 'new' shops. We've had an 'antique' shop and a 'vintage' clothes shop the last two openers and I find it all very irritating. Where's the decent caf, priced for everyone's budget? Or a good butcher that isn't the sodding Ginger Pig? Our high st is up and coming but only for those with money; it's a kind of pastiche of a high street.

There are at least 3 places you can get a cracking coffee though and that's never a bad thing. wink

Bonsoir Mon 14-Jan-13 19:48:10

faux vintage high street shops


ArielThePiraticalMermaid Mon 14-Jan-13 19:52:02

Betsey, it's the same irritation I get in some wanked up gastro pub charging £18 for a fillet of this nestling on a bed of that drizzled in a something or other jus.

Just serve me toad in the hole, dammit angry


SparkyDudess Mon 14-Jan-13 20:02:21

Timperley now has a sainsburys express thing - and as expected, it's killing the little independent shops. Green grocer has already gone, it's only a matter of time before the others close

MissBetseyTrotwood Mon 14-Jan-13 20:12:35

And the worst thing about it is the owners are all sort of smug about it. And surprised when people take a pop at them on their fb pages. Like 'look here, look how I'm regenerating your high street you ungrateful locals!'

There has to be a middle ground between fried chicken shops and bookies and ironically trendy 80s mohair jumpers with shoulder pads for £50 a piece.

Sorry. Rant over. Better go and do some work so I can afford to live here!

MissBetseyTrotwood Mon 14-Jan-13 20:15:27

And tell them to stick their £18 quid up their locally foraged backsides. It's a pub ffs! Deep fried bar snacks in a basket NOW! wink

Anifrangapani Mon 14-Jan-13 20:22:01

Prehaps councils could rebate the parking in local shopping areas when you make more than a certain number of purchases. Like a loyalty card you get stamped. It could be offset against council tax prehaps.

HMV is going under as well now. The high street looks very different nowadays sad

It does indeed look as though HMV are going under. It is sad, they had a gamer base in our to that was shut about two years ago, although it was never quiet and I as did many of my gamer friends spent a lot of time and spent a lot of money.

But they were too late in the online market. I suppose Richard Branson got out at the right time by selling Virgin Megastores.

BegoniaBampot Mon 14-Jan-13 21:43:42

Not surprised HMV is struggling what with all the new technology but still hate to see it happen, love having a good browse round. Tis happened in my little town over 30 yrs ago. Was a poor little town, very WC but had a bustling high street with independent family run shops. Then Asda moved and bought up half the high street. Knocked down all the old sandstone buildings and built a god awful 1970's supermarket and surrounding complex of shops. These shops have generally never been able to make a go of it and are either empty, pound or charity shops. It's fucking depressing.

RedToothbrush Mon 14-Jan-13 22:11:24

The UK is becoming more polarised.

The shops reflect this. And as things move online it makes it our country more dependant on the internet.

Thus if you haven't got access to the internet you have less access in general.

Don't forget online shopping is more able to monitor our buying patterns and habits too. Your information is scarily valuable.

I feel sorry for the stereotypical little old lady who has yet to discover the internet.

BooksandaCuppa Mon 14-Jan-13 22:26:37

I work in a small market town which is about 22 miles from the nearest small city (I live sort of in between)...and it's lovely for independent coffee shops, gift shops, foodie places, antiques, bookshops, music shops and some decent charity shops; cheap parking and a twice-weekly small market...but there is literally nowhere to buy clothes!!! One really expensive boutique and some ok stuff obviously in the charity shops..but nowhere to buy pants or jeans or a t-shirt.

I don't get how it's not possible for there to be a market for an ordinary clothes shop in a town of this sort/size (there used to be a Woolworths but that was the only chain shop ever there). It's over a tenner on the bus and 20 miles to anywhere where you can buy pants or babygros. I suppose it's a reasonably 'horse-y' place so some people will use mail order or the one posh boutique but I'm not sure where the 'normal' people (especially without cars) shop.

BooksandaCuppa Mon 14-Jan-13 22:29:26

X-post with Redtoothbrush - yy: worrying for little old lady with no internet and the poorer family with no car, too.

I tried to do all of my Christmas shopping on the High Street this year; I feel a moral obligation not to just source the cheapest possible price for every item (I appreciate many people can't afford to do this - but some seriously wealthy people do seem to want to have Tescos and Amazon prices and keep the High St open can't have it all).

TheSecondComing Mon 14-Jan-13 22:31:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BunFagFreddie Mon 14-Jan-13 22:34:12

"I feel sorry for the stereotypical little old lady who has yet to discover the internet. "

An old lady kept calling me as she was convinced I was the oil company. I had to look up places online and give the numbers to her over the phone because she didn't have internet access.

ThePsychicSatsuma Mon 14-Jan-13 23:05:12

thesecondcoming -- I miss 'Pumpkin' in Sale now I live in Midlands. Is it still ok?

gimmecakeandcandy Mon 14-Jan-13 23:08:52

Where is this high street elizaregina?

MoreBeta Mon 14-Jan-13 23:09:27

High rents are one of the major causes of the high street being devastated - I am staggered by the number of shops that stay empty for years and yet commercial landlords refuse to drop their rents.

We have 3 shopping centres in our town plus a high street and I estimate its at least 35% empty shops. If the charity shops and Cash for Gold shops closed it would be over 50%.

One of the reasons rents dont fall is the banks will not allow landlords to drop rents otherwise they would not be able to pay the mortgage. Pension funds also own a lot of commercial property now and also insist on upward only rent reviews. It is totally unrealistic how high commercial rents for shops on the high street are - no wonder they cant compete with internet retail.

RedToothbrush Mon 14-Jan-13 23:29:50

I disagree about high rents.

The number one and two reasons I'd go to an out of town mall over other more local shopping centres.

Parking and Late Opening.

That killed the high street more than any thing else. Then the better shops moved out as they realised that (and they pay far higher rents in out of town malls than the high street - though admittedly they have much bigger catchment areas). Thus leaving these places that have nothing to draw in people and no one wanted to pay for the privilege of visiting a bunch of crap shops. Not to mention once the local councils finally woke up to the problem of parking the damage had already been done.

mam29 Tue 15-Jan-13 00:05:14

Agree very sad. Im city suberb now nearby small towns near me

yate-dire ugly and taken over by monstor tesco. sincxe woolies went its nows poundland, has large morrisions,lidls and iceland. few other shops but not much lots closed.

Nearby chipping sodbury is nice few independents but bugger to park not been there in ages.

Thornbury doesnt seen to be much there.
keynsham used to work was nothing there but not as bad as warminster used to be was so dead there apart from large morrsions and iceland.

My nearest high street is 15mins walk but its large co-op pricey here the oaps shop,x5 banks, building soceities, takeaways , estate agents x5, small pokey post office where staff are rude, small sainsburys local just opened but everyone moans its pricey, 2 charity shops, 1 independant deli, 1bike shop, 2hairdresseres, dry cleaner, 1travel agents, 1 carpet shop/bed. fabric shops bit odd one. The clothes boutique closes no small motaman. Its really boring place.

My mams home town abergavenny used to be pretty market town but mostly closed shops, charity shops, cheapey shops. tesco seems to dominate town centre , aldis just opened. large out town waitrose which mam moans is pricey, marleys not aht used to be but not as bad as brymawr/ebbw vale . crickhowells only independants lovley but small.

sad about hmw but not unexpected.

whats happening with mary portas trial towns it was announce but wonder what shes done with them?

I do try and support independants like corner shops here I can.

BunFagFreddie Tue 15-Jan-13 00:08:56

Yes, the nearest town to us has a Co-op, which is pricey, and a Lidl. The butchers are excellent though and there are a few small shops struggling. There are the usual banks, takeaways, charity shops and pound shops. It's not an affluent place and many people are unemployed. It would be great if the people who lived in the town could get jobs, so they could spend their money there.

Darkesteyes Tue 15-Jan-13 00:28:00

I live in a small town in Essex. Our high street consists of one local department store a shoe shop a small card shop and loads of estate agents charity shops and cash in hand/cashconverters.
Two years ago we lost our local bookshop which was so sad. Had been using it since the 1980. I used to buy my Sweet Valley High books there. And Barbara Erskine books. And Stephen King Nicci French etc.
I remember my final purchase from there two years ago was Barbara Erskines Hiding from the Light.
They usually had a good selection there and were happy to order in what wasnt on the shelves.
I like wandering and browsing around a local bookshop. I remember going to Maldon Carnival every year in the early 1990s and i absolutely HAD to visit their second hand bookshops each time i was there. I have yet to discover internet shopping. I like browsing.

Darkesteyes Tue 15-Jan-13 00:29:25

Sorry. that should say id been using our local bookshop since the 1980s.

JustAFewRory Tue 15-Jan-13 00:57:53

10 tears ago a relative who works in town planning said "Well Just people want to use their cars to go shopping." So it's all our own fault then! I thought this was a bit presumptuous, and assuming planners have no responsibility.

I think it was obvious, even before internet shopping took off, that our towns were being gutted.

If there are out of town centres proposed near you do take the opportunity to lodge an objection.

YouOldSlag Tue 15-Jan-13 07:19:34

mam29- Abergavenny's lovely! I haven't seen any empty shops and the indoor market keeps people coming in from miles around.

*Well Just people want to use their cars to go shopping."*- the sad thing is, once this assumption was made, the pattern that followed is that soon you will HAVE to be able to drive to go shopping. All the retail parks will be out of town.

It's partly the price we pay for being such a car dependant society.

Yet so many people don't drive or can't run a car, and many elderly can't shop online, so what happens to them?

lljkk Tue 15-Jan-13 08:09:50

Taxis and buses, YOS.
I heard a story of an elderly couple who never go out. They phone up their order to local Sainsbury's & get it delivered by taxi. It's a regular thing.
Car dependency is very bad for cities, though, it makes them pedestrian-hostile.

YouOldSlag Tue 15-Jan-13 10:25:32

That's a very resourceful couple lljkk! I'm not a driver and I feel sad that the trend is now that retail parks are taking over from High Streets and forcing people's hands. It'll be like America soon where not driving is simply not an option. Over here in the UK you can still get away with not driving and still get around and have good quality of life.

Not so much when all the shops are just off the motorway and the high streets are ghost towns.

mam29 Tue 15-Jan-13 10:30:15

Thanks you old slag its nice but my mums always telling me about shops that closing down, cash for gold shop opened up and not as many shops as their used to be. very limited for food so think they welcomed aldi as tesco metro it town gets most of oap trade.
I dont go back often so cant say take good look at highs street recently.

Theres few gems that still exist

richards department store-used to love their toys.
nicolls has done well too.
Theres probably too many coffee shops always has been,
markets not as good as once was used to love tuesday market
lots of charity shops.
The chains are small whmsith, wilkos, iceland, tesco.
dorothy perkins/newlook

They still have independant butcher but fishmonger went and not sure about green grocers.

peococks and clintons cousin lost her managers job peococks newport

my mums been made redundant twice from rosebys then ponden mill.

Most people go cwmbran-which has lost lost lots shops too and is new town so quite ugly,.

I think theres also the the point that shops dont match incomes.

Abergavenny and other market towns seen as affleunt and property prices are so high. But incomes are low and jobs are scarce and fulltime jobs even harder to come by guess why wales has larger public sector.

My husband used to be store manager in newport.
for 8hour temp min wage position in 3days had over 100applicants some overqualified and had to close applications.
Having worked both side border wales they slightly more loyal other day saw someone in waitrose use dto work with 15years ago in safeway doing same job.

Not been good week for retail

jessops 2000 jobs
hmv 4500
comet 4000

so extra 10,000 people on the dole.

The ones I miss

wollies some taken over but huge gap. retail park near me lost tj hugues, wollies, peococks and jjb is mostly empty looks really sad.

Miss borders.It was so much better than waterstones.

glad whittards was saved.

gutted about habitat and the pier.

never really shopped at la senza much.

Makes me wonder wheres these jobs in private sector coming from?

I wonder how much longer mothercare can survive as they shut their early learning stores down.

lots of kids independants/gift shops never last.

Some supermarkets do free bus know asda do know idea how to get it.

I dont drive and some shops bit hard for me to get to so stick to good bus route.

I like a good high street just sadly my nearest is not that good neither is the other 3nearby suberbs.

Posh areas like clifton will do well.

baths been regenerated

love york but not been there in years.

My mil wont leave house.
we do her weekly shopping.
back when fil alive used to go once a week nearest high street.

Eatingdoughnuts Tue 15-Jan-13 10:33:50

Our local council have totally killed off our town centre. Firstly by doing a half hearted refurbishment which made it worse,rather than better. Think slippery pavement surfaces (coated with a strange varnishy stuff), and everything else just left to rack and ruin. And secondly by charging extortionate charges for parking. Even full price has to be paid for parking at night now so it's affecting the trade of the local theatre and cinema.

We're about 40 miles from a big city, which is in the UK's list of top 10 shopping destinations, and we pay far more to park then you do there! Our council arrogantly think our small town is on a par with that city for some reason.

We have a severe lack of decent shops too as the rates are just so high. Again the council is just greedy. We have about 15 charity shops, loads of banks, loads of mobile phone shops, and then just smaller, more rubbish versions of all the high street stores, interspersed with vandalised empty buildings. Looks like our large HMV will soon be joining the empty buildings too.

I rarely go into our town as to be honest it makes me feel depressed. Parking is too expensive, and the town centre is filthy. I prefer to buy online, or at our massive local Sainsburys, or to go to the city I mentioned earlier.

By contrast, we sometimes stay with relatives in a small town in Devon, which has the most amazing high street; full of small, independents stores; delicatessens, a pharmacy, an amazing bakery, a butcher, a greengrocer, plus lots of quirky little boutiques, coffee shops and restaurants. It's like being in the middle of France, it's gorgeous!

YouOldSlag Tue 15-Jan-13 10:46:15

mam29- the butcher in Abergavenny is excellent!

Cwmbran is not pretty, 'tis true, but the council don't charge for parking and it's very pedestrian friendly so a lot of people with kids/wheelchairs/mobility scooters go there. It's always busy so they must be doing something right down there!

Icanhasnickname Tue 15-Jan-13 11:11:49

I have to drive to get to any shops...and my nearest town is lovely...but, has so little parking that its a gamble to go there as very often you just wont get parked! If there are no spaces you then have to just go home, as the parking wardens are very efficient! So, I'll get in my car, decide if i feel 'lucky today'...and more often than not drive further, to a town with a tescos, where I always get a space.

YouOldSlag Tue 15-Jan-13 11:59:46

Ican- that's really sad. What a shambles we have become! There's no point even having shops if people can't get to them! Someone in your local planning department needs to have a long hard think.

Chelvis Tue 15-Jan-13 12:21:17

I can't afford to go to the high street anymore. If DH and I want to go to the local town to visit a few shops and have lunch, it's either a bus daysaver for £4.50 each (£9 total) or parking at £7 for 2-3 hours. The retail park has free parking. And my council seem to think that putting up some hanging baskets and planters will solve the problem angry

cathers Tue 15-Jan-13 12:23:11

Our high street , (Cornwall), is lovely and is always busy but it has never had any chain stores. There are butchers, bakers, fishmongers, groceries, gift shops and coffee shops, hairdressers, chemists and coop but no clothes shops or music shops. It hasn't changed for over 30 years. People do their daily shopping here and buy on line or have a 'day out' for other things.
It does mean being more organised though but is a much calmer way to shop if you have the time.

ballroompink Tue 15-Jan-13 12:26:26

I live in a city now, but the small, rural town where I grew up has suffered a lot. When I was younger it had three greengrocers', three butcher's shops, a couple of supermarkets, three or four women's clothing shops, a couple of men's clothing places, a couple of baby/childrenswear shops, several independent gifty-type shops etc, as well as Boots, Superdrug, Clarks, Currys, Woolworths, M & Co, Birthdays...

These days it has four supermarkets, one butcher, a couple of clothes shops and a plethora of hair salons, estate agents, cheap food/pound shops, etc. Currys, Birthdays and Woolworths are now long gone although the other chains remain. The high street looks run down and miserable. It's sad. You go to more 'well-heeled' small towns in the area, however, and they seem to be thriving.

Catriona100 Tue 15-Jan-13 12:40:45

Mary Portas was appointed High Street Tsar by the government about 2 years ago. She did a TV series about what's going wrong.... basically all the things mentioned here... parking costs, high rents, internet shopping, out of town malls etc., etc.

Then she selected a dozen towns for a pilot project. Those towns have been given a (smallish) government grant:

Bedford – offering mentoring support for High Street businesses and community use of empty properties.
Croydon, Greater London – transforming the riot-stricken area’s historic Old Town market into a thriving market, food and cultural quarter.
Dartford, Kent – opening up central spaces for use by classes and clubs, from the Scouts to Slimming World and starting a ‘school for shopkeepers’.
Bedminster, Bristol – putting Bedminster on the map for Street Art and Street Theatre. A bicycle rickshaw service and a review of parking will also tackle the traffic environment.
Liskeard, Cornwall – competing against the edge of town supermarket with a vibrant arts scene, guerrilla gardening and yarn bombing to inject fun back into the town centre.
Margate, Kent – putting education and enjoyment at the heart of the town centre’s transformation with courses, “job club” services and pop up shops.
Market Rasen, Lincolnshire – drawing customers in by restoring the market town look and feel, advertising free parking and mentoring new businesses.
Nelson, Lancashire – attracting local students with a young persons café, sports activities, and a new art and vintage market.
Newbiggin by the Sea, Northumberland – better branding of the town to draw people in, improving local transport and hosting pop up shops.
Stockport, Greater Manchester – realising the character and potential of the Markets and Underbanks area with a creative arts complex, outdoor screenings, a new parking strategy and street champions.
Stockton on Tees, North Yorkshire – live entertainment at the Globe Theatre to boost the evening leisure economy alongside specialist High Street and evening markets.
Wolverhampton – bringing the city will to life with modern day town criers and on-street performers and a ‘dragon’s den’ style competition to support local entrepreneurs.

I don't know what has happened since. Maybe its still ongoing, or maybe it was a headline initiative with no substance.

Xenia Tue 15-Jan-13 14:37:48

I would rather watch paint dry than enter a shop so I am not too upset about their demise. If manufacturers are so keen they remain they will need to buy and/or support them more compared with on line selling.

Why do people want shops to be there?

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Tue 15-Jan-13 14:50:56

Because they add life to the centre of town. Because going in to town is à social experience. Because lots of people enjoy browsing. Because if people did all their shopping online, some if them would rarely leave the house. Because they keep town centres as something other than merely the habitat of teens and drunks. Because shops provide jobs and use fir buildings. A town without a high street is like a town without a heart.

You don't enjoy popping into town. Lots of other people do.

BegoniaBampot Tue 15-Jan-13 14:52:29

Xenia - don't be ridiculous. Attention seeking again with your outlandish, out there views?

johnworf Tue 15-Jan-13 14:53:23

The high street has been dying on it's arse for the past 10 years at least. The rise in internet shopping has only served to accelerate this.

Local communites need to vote with their feet and shop with the small independents. Atmosphere, quality local goods and a sense of community. The heart of towns needs to be restarted.

I am a local independent trader. I work as part of a number of small businesses who rent shop space within a larger unit. The rents are low and it gives budding small businesses a chance to get started up.

I hope in the near future there is a movement away from out of town/big corporation shopping, and local economies can once again begin to thrive.

higgle Tue 15-Jan-13 15:01:09

I only go to The high Street if it is in a town/cit where there are other things going on too - Bath for example. A trip to Bristol or Gloucester is not something that attracts me as it costs me a fiver to get there and back in the car and another fiver to park, so all in all a bit expensive for a visit to a dump when I can buy my stuff on the internet, get a discount and often free delivery and postage.

Farmers markets and artisan bakers are all well and good, but "The Baker Boys" bread is very expensive and I never end up spending less than £30 on a load of knobbly veg and some cheese that becomes strangely unattractive on the way home.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Tue 15-Jan-13 15:06:38

Bristol a dump? Gloucester granted, but Bristol....?

I agree with higgle and I live in Bristol. For DP and me to go into town, it's £8 on the bus (we live four miles from the city centre). Driving in Bristol is a nightmare let alone the cost of parking. They opened a big, shiny shopping centre about four years ago (Cabot's Circus) and when I was there last week, another two shops were closing. This new shopping centre ripped the heart out of the old Broadmead area which in turn ripped the heart out of St Nicholas as part of appalling post war planning.

I rarely shop in shops and sadly, tend to go to the out of town mall where I can park for free as do most people I know. It's not just small towns that have these problems, cities do to.

Xenia Tue 15-Jan-13 15:15:06

Just because I don't have the same views as other people doesn't mean I have no right to express them. Shops encourage spending too much. They are consumeristic. They are arguably immoral and are bad for the environment. Why do we want these dreadful places preserved? They are a monument to the foolishness of man surely?

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Tue 15-Jan-13 15:18:32

<falls about laughing>

Catriona100 Tue 15-Jan-13 15:19:47

One of the advantages of shopping on the internet is that you can usually find exactly what you want, and usually the website will advise whether something is out of stock. Then you have a choice about whether

How many times have you gone into town looking for something, walked from shop to shop, waited for an assistant to ask where it may be found and then be told that they have stopped stocking the thing you want. So, finally you have left empty handed? it has happened to me twice this month already (I wanted a particular skylander toy and some space bags).

The advantages of going into town to shop are you get to see the item before you buy it, you can take it away straight away and window shopping can be nice. the disadvantages are the range is tiny compared to the internet (even if you were shopping in central London), prices are typically higher, the cost of getting into town can make the item you need very expensive, it takes a long time and sore feet!

IMVHO I think councils need to reduce rates and parking charges, landlords need to accept that their good days are over and shops need to be more service focused.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Tue 15-Jan-13 15:23:21

Sorry, I don't mean to ridicule your post. I was wondering about how you regard people who need to buy some food, or replace some cookware, or replace their knickers or stock up on sanitary protection and the shops which sell them this. And I was wondering how you marry this opinion with your opinion that all women should have interesting, well paid, rewarding and fun careers. Or do you not include bring a small business owner on the high street in this list of exclusive career options?

TheSecondComing Tue 15-Jan-13 16:09:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Tue 15-Jan-13 16:15:37

OK, sorry. It's just....I thought she was supposed to be Very Clever.

Very Clever at making comments that she knows will outrage everyone.

TheSecondComing Tue 15-Jan-13 16:26:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Tue 15-Jan-13 16:28:15

There is a book called the Ethical Shopper or something. I nearly wept when I read it. Pretty much everything is out of bounds.

With clothes, I don't like ordering online because I am a funny shape and need to know how it looks first. So I for one will shop for clothes in town forever even though I hardly ever buy clothes

fuzzpig Tue 15-Jan-13 16:30:27

My town was supposed to be one of the most recession-proof towns a few years ago due to its location hmm yet we are losing lots of shops. Having said that it could be a lot worse.

TheSecondComing Tue 15-Jan-13 16:30:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

"I loathe clothes shopping with a passion but can't imagine ordering everything online, surely once the post and packing/click and collect has been paid for, and the pita waiting for a courier, then the returns etc (all the while they have your money...) is more of a faff?"

It is and it isn't.

On the one hand you can try it on then and there.
On the other the changing rooms are rarely pleasant and they don't always have your size. While at home your are comfortable and you'll have ordered the size you want.

On the one hand you don't have to wait for a courier.
On the other you don't have to brave the crowds/weather/pay parking/walk much/wait in a queue/deal with people with poor customer service skills.

If a shop can make the changing rooms a pleasant area, make sure the staff are well trained and pleasant to deal with, ensure the store itself isn't stressful, and hold a decent amount of stock, then there's no competition. Unfortunately that isn't always the case. sad

TheSecondComing Tue 15-Jan-13 16:42:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

YouOldSlag Tue 15-Jan-13 16:43:19

I am interested to read Mary Portas's initiatives but to be honest at the end of the day, you just need free parking, and lots of it and lower rent and rates.

All the street theatre and yarn bombing in the world is pointless if people can't get there or park cheaply or for free. They just won't go.

Catriona100 Tue 15-Jan-13 16:54:18

YouOldSlag - I completely agree, except when you are talking about commuter towns where the station is in the town centre. In that case. you need the parking to be really cheap but with a 5 hour time limit.

I couldn't care less about street theatre either (nor street art) but then I'm a philistine when it comes to that sort of thing.

Xenia Tue 15-Jan-13 16:56:36

I don't understand anyone buying cvlothes in shops really. We never do. However I do not really spend much anyway on that type of thing so it's a small part of my life and not important.

I never said I was clever. I've never posted my Mensa score on Mumsnet. I might be thick as a plank, you never know.

So if people don't want shops enough to shop in them they will die away. Surely that's just free market economics? I have done a lot of work advising actually in an area of all this but better not say what.

ChuffMuffin Tue 15-Jan-13 16:59:26

It's all feckin' shisha bars and Tesco Expresses round here. sad

Catriona100 Tue 15-Jan-13 16:59:36

I am sure those who paid for your advice, truly felt that they were receiving value for money given that you freely admit to having no understanding of their customers behaviour...

stubbornstains Tue 15-Jan-13 17:04:09

*I put down one months rent, and months deposit and I was in business

gosh i would open up shop and try it if it was that accesible.*

Too true...I've been on a business course lately, and only one of about 30 prospective small businesses was considering renting premises.

To be a devil's advocate, I will say that at least the advent of online shopping is creating a lot of small businesses, which is probably a better way of earning a living than working for minimum wage at WH Smith. (Just try not to buy your online stuff from Amazon Central, which I don't think has a very good reputation as an employer- let alone a taxpayer).

Helston (Cornwall) still has a pretty good high street, despite 3 out-of-town supermarkets and 2 or 3 empty shopfronts. Cheap parking (free after 4!) helps, and, to me, sheer accessibility- it's small enough to be able to get to everything really easily and quickly. It's pretty working class too.

BunFagFreddie Tue 15-Jan-13 17:11:10

A trip to Bristol or Gloucester is not something that attracts me. Gloucester is a shit-hole and the centre is really grotty with its 1970's/80's shopping mall monstrosities. It's so sad, because you can see the remnants of the old buildings with wooden beams. If it wasn't for 'town planners', it would have been an architectural gem. There's nothing there to make me think "Yay!" and it's my nearest city.

I do a lot of shopping online, but I prefer going into real shops for some things. I like to go to the butcher and the greengrocer. You can be very specific about quantities and see the things you will actually be buying! Photographs online can be very misleading and so can the little blurbs describing items.

Same goes with clothes. I prefer to touch the fabric and try them on before I make up my mind about buying them. Due to the lack of decent clothes shops in the vicinity, I usually end buying online and often send things back.

Xenia Tue 15-Jan-13 17:16:46

(I do it all the time. It is on some complex technical issues around differences between internet and bricks and mortar stores)

stubborn, may well be true. Much better to be a woman at home running a growing internet business than on £6 an hour in your local W H Smith.

BegoniaBampot Tue 15-Jan-13 17:39:15

Our council banned all the street traders who were popular and added a splash of colour from our dull town center. Also closed the weekly market that had sprung up. Bloody useless.

Darkesteyes Tue 15-Jan-13 17:50:33

I would love a weekend in Cornwall or Devon for my 40th birthday in June but i doubt i will be able to afford it. i will have a look online at prices of B+Bs in the area. Ive never been before and it sounds lovely.

Darkesteyes Tue 15-Jan-13 18:02:31

I found this video of my home town on you tube about 13 months ago. i wasnt born till the 70s but it made me nostalgic and shed a couple of tears too.

Darkesteyes Tue 15-Jan-13 18:06:30

And this was shot last year.

newNN Tue 15-Jan-13 18:16:02

mam29, I'm from Abergavenny too. Game has gone, so has Millets and Caboodles (lovely independent shop). Also Curry's. I think Richards might be in trouble - it doesn't sell half the stuff it used to. Places keep opening, then closing again and it seems to be wall to wall phone shops and charity shops.

Peacocks is still open though, but I remember when the big Safeways was in the town centre - I think it started to go wrong when the out of town one was built. I used to love mooching round Jungles and Woolies when I was a teenager. Tried to buy a DVD there a couple of weeks ago and I kid you not, there was nowhere selling what I wanted, in town.

Internet shopping is all very well but when you've left buying someone's birthday present to the last minute (looking at you, DH), then you really do need actual shops!

TheSecondComing Tue 15-Jan-13 18:26:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

higgle Tue 15-Jan-13 18:55:07

And another thing, the lighting in my bedroom is rather more flattering than the John Lewis changing rooms.

stubbornstains Tue 15-Jan-13 19:46:23

TSC I don't know about that; I'm not thinking about macrame cupcakes so much as the things I have bought recently from Amazon: a new mobile, for example. Which came from one of their sellers rather than Amazon Central, so it is a small business, and they managed to undercut any of the phone shops on the High St by about £30.

Similarly, I just bought a new vacuum cleaner: much cheaper and a much better choice than Currys, and again a small seller.

I think the "big players" are getting lazy and complacent and need to up their game if they don't want to go the way of Comet.

(but I will also admit that my creative, partially online business is not a huge money spinner. Yet!!!! grin)

(I do NOT make macrame cupcakes though, I just wanted to make that clear!)

mam29 Tue 15-Jan-13 19:57:31

NewNn- ahh ou bringing back lovley memories I used to adore jungles especially when it was at town hall end then it moved.
The baby shop dident last long liked that too.
Caboodles good its gone for mum she used to spend small fortune in their but owner said was no longer viablesad.

Is focus still there near tesco-the one with coffee shop at back?
A teen used to love mock lobster.
mum said stead and simpsons shut down now shoe zone paid a she brought dd some school shoes which fell apart after 6weeks.

I know halfords went, thourght peococks had, trying to remember where millets was precinct?

I wasnet surprise when they shut down rosbys and ponden mill as as always empty and good for aber to have pictures again.

Not been in richards in years.Have fond memories of taking piggy bank to toy department and spending hour in natiago looking at wools with nan,

my 1st job was in awful cheap shop called family value opposite the george pub.

I then worked for safeway on both sites old store was nicer.

its not that mum doesnt like waitrose just quite pricey and ideally need car.But staff who worked for safeway must be glad as they fab company to work for.

Showing my age here but as teen frustrate me with cds then as woolies had their onw chart and some songs I liked wree not in woolies chart and had to go our price in cwbran. But cwmbran hardky just round corner petrol or train money to get there.
Does smiths not sell cds? they really too small that shop could do with being bigger since woolies demise as reckon they could do better.

Least has tourists and nice places like angel drawing people into town centre.

I always chuckle when go bak and read aber chronicle as same headline every 5years whats supermarkets going on cattle market site its not even that big space but is central so be shame for it to go to on large chain.

I remember the anger of parking charges as so many council carparks quite central to high street,

I think its shame they couldent spend money doing up bailey park and outdoor pool and trying to get something other than retail to draw people in. most cinimas are out town retail parks.

Bristol agree cabots destroyed broadmead.
I dont know how to regenerate that area of town as no one goes at that end all nice ones opposite tesco all empty good units would eb lovley for independant quarter, carduff used to have few arcades small shops but guess rent and rates in bristol too high.

traffics horrendous
first bus is expensive and rubbish on my cattle bus home no 48.
I dont find anything much in market its tiny and limited.

best independants are park street/clifton triangle
clifton village
gloucester rd-they campaigned and rioted against another tesco in stokes croft.
Staple hill has quite few independants still as does easton.

Not been bedminster in years as wrong side river but it needs something.

I dont think retail parks are doing that great either as most imperial and filton shops shut down.

For us biggest problem since having kids and recession is drop in disposble income.

we buy much more 2nd hand -brought nearly all new with pfb.

2nd /3rd baby did ncts, charity shops, ebay and carboots.

I rarly buy new and if i do its primark or supermarket clothes.

I dont think im alone which mean fashion retailers must be struggling as are mothercare and mamas and papas.

I miss the normal size supermarket as nearest is metro more pricey ,small range but all others have gone supersized.
do like asda living reminds me woolies-hate asda large supermarket.
Home stuff ikeas so cheap and convieniant still doesnt stop me lusting but rarly buying kitchen stuff in bristol guild.

newNN Tue 15-Jan-13 20:53:07

mam29, you made me laugh about the chronicle. Yes they are still banging on about the cattle market - think Morrisons is the current favourite! Think Nantiago has gone now and what used to be focus is now a cafe but doesn't have any of the nice jewellery or paintings in the front bit anymore.

I am old enough to remember Merrits (opposite woolies) - used to hover in there after school reading all the magazines and stocking up on chocolate. It makes me sad to go into town now - it's like Pontypool now, all miserable. Even Thornton's (in the old Martin's too place) is now an outlet, rather than a proper shop.

The George is derelict now, and the Black Lion has gone - spent many a happy hour in there. A joy my teenagers will never know thank god!

marriedinwhite Tue 15-Jan-13 21:11:36

Well we live in Putney and in the 30+ years I have spent here (where a terraced house costs £1m) the shops have always been dreadful - no quality at all and it's a topic of conversation. The shops in Wimbledon are better, the shops in High Street Ken are much better. Perhaps it's because we are so close to other things but what have we got:

M&S Food (and meagre bits), Waitrose (badly organised and cluttered), Sainos (small), Tesco Metro, countless coffee shops, countless estate agents, Halfords, Benetton, a few clothes shops but nothing to write home about, Gap, Next, Monsoon, Phase 8, Office, Clarks, Laura Ashsley, a nice jewellers in the exchange, a children's shoe shop, Cargo, a few card shops, accessorise, Boots, WHS, Millets. All very mediocre and predictable. And a lot more restaurants (that aren't all that good) than there used to be. And a pretty dire Odeon.

It needs livening up.

TheSecondComing Tue 15-Jan-13 21:38:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Lonelybunny Tue 15-Jan-13 21:38:57

Sounds like our town ! It's terrible we have loads of estate agents, charity shops, travel agents and mounds of empty shops which they have put up drawings local school children have done in the windows . I always remembered it bustling , especially at Christmas but I seriously rarely go into our town now as there is nothing there, we go to the next two towns along which are a bit better Croydon is one of them and that's going a bit downhill now alders has gone broke sad

Lonelybunny Tue 15-Jan-13 21:39:37

I love Wimbledon too ! What's that department store called ? I lived it in there smile

marriedinwhite Tue 15-Jan-13 21:43:27


Elys is a bit like Grace Brothers. A lovely independent old fashioned department store where you can buy a washing machine on Friday and the man brings it and plumbs it in on Saturday grin. I can always find something to wear in there too.

mam29 Tue 15-Jan-13 21:53:11

NewNN -Yes chronicle most boring read same recycled headlines in some ways nibyism holds aber back as older generation whinge and younger ones are bored. I thourght Asda wanted it..

ahh blast from past remember martins 2 had thousands of trolls and turned into troll land?

merrits remember that was where ponden mill was had toy department in back room.

cable news by tesco used to be called stevens and have odd toys and clothes at back remember one particuarly unattractive coat in junior school from There.

Used to love focus and chat to guy in there for ages cafe wa always good for foods but for coffee always had to be luigis for me .

retail must be boring now without mad evans terroising and making shop assistants cry.

Its weird remember aber as kid and places my nan went to

Knighst was odd jewellry shop next to black lion she wore clip on earrings was barbers too opposite where nicols used to be before it went posh and just did huge pets section.

Vin sullivan-fishmongers.
Opposite vin sullivans I remember a shop with loads of bags of spices but cant remember what it was called can you? think they had factory in grocers was next to happy meats and greggs in precinct.
Where nicols is now used to be really weird old ladie boutique very formal think was called annies then couple boutiques one opposite st marys church and one at other end by baptist church blondies where my aunts used to frequent.

Thimbles choc shop was yum.

Do you remember what shop was at front by town hall was cheapy shop for a while. I remember when it was realy nice book shop with chadeliers and posh decor .

Like health shop down market street.
market street was always my fave chippy.
Used to be children wear place opposite post office.
My cousins wife used to run nursery thymes where that old fashioned grocer was for years.
Used to spend hours down janus looking at videos.

Even the side streets had interesting shops like dolls house shop, guitar shop, independant pet shop on merthyr road, dwyers news agents. Corner shops like family food store and stanope street postiffice/launderette went. merthyr rd used to have loads of small shops and if memory serves me right even a butchers.

The independant petrol station that used to fill up car for you on brecon rd.

Miss pinches the bakers they did best pasties.
greggs cannot compare!

sat nights involved the george,wine bar, pizza parlour, grasshoppers ,hen and chicks and the rather dire coach and horses for pool.

shame about black lion mum worked there, even remember the sugar loaf.Its all about spoons these days and amazed auberge has stayed good as that location seemed cursed.
All i seem to hear about now is the kings arms and grofeild.

I have to admit got married in aber and dident use an Abergavenny florist as so pricey went to town that life forgot as hubby calls it brynmawr to roberts flowers who were fab.
The hairdressers up lewis lane turned my hair green week before the wedding.

I hope its not as dire as pontypool as that towns always been depressing.Only good thing ponty had was leisure centre and getting married at pontypool registry office so glad aber opened one.

Mum goes hereford or cwmbran as she wont do motorways.

My husband thinks Abergavennys quaint but its so sad when think back to how it used to be,

Is anything where cool trader/farmfoods/quicksave used to be?I remember how used to walk through the chiller with plastic flaps in kwick save.

I dont think could move back as would get too bored.
I also think bored kids leads to more trouble as drinking was all there seemed to be and not happy with what they did with the schools. Would never send mine to Khs.

I dont go back often but always hear from mum which shops gone now and whos died.Theres been no exiting small town scandel in ages. Everyone always knew everyones business or who was related to who.

newNN Tue 15-Jan-13 22:29:10

mam, I bought my son's first pram from that baby shop opposite the post office. It is now a really nice milkshake bar. Don't remember the spice shop opposite vin Sullivan's, but there was a cafe there at some point. Aubergine is a bit swanky now - I remember when they had a dress code and everything. Grasshoppers has also closed down. Hen and chicks and Kings Arms are still going though.

newNN Tue 15-Jan-13 22:30:41

swanky should say skanky. phone changed that for some reason

LesBOFerables Tue 15-Jan-13 23:01:21

The inexorable logic of Tescos will mean that most of the staff will actually be working on short-term contracts for the government, in effect, on workfare.

The only small business that has opened near to me recently is like something out of a dystopian comic: a shop which sells sweeties and ice-cream alongside drug paraphernalia like bongs and novelty rizlas.

i have to say unfourtunatly i am more of an online shopper due to the price diffrence and conevience i do rarely go into town many shops have gone like adams pumkin patch etc but still lots their mainly food places and coffee shops i can honeslty say i miss the days where the towns where smaller and quiter i know nothing to do with shops but on that side of it i feel for the shops because the rates are awful our world is becoming so tech that many places arent fitting in with the modern world i read something in the daily mail about a libray the first ever abroad cant remember where with no books i think it says it all really i feel sorry for the older people with all this tech it can be far to much for them

mam29 Tue 15-Jan-13 23:17:49

Cant remember baby shop name dident realise they did prams got tights and undies there..

Will as mum name baby shop and spice shop hippo campo sticks in my mind for some reason.

Does seem like towns overrun with cafes,pubs and not mucg exiting stuff.

Even the eric davies sale not what it used to be cousins wife used to camp outside.

Shame about auberge as used to be good was bloke who used to run grasshoppers which also went rough towards end. sat nite in aber could get pretty hairy at best of times.

On plus side xmas lights looked lovley.

best things as a kid were free

used to like the salesmen doing cleaning demos in market on amazing clothes.

nan used take me down pet shop market and cattle marlet look at animals then the whole family would meet for coffee in luigis,

I would get a balloon then lose it in town hall and end up in tears.
sometimes had 50p on 50p marlet stall.

used to go in wollies and never realise what went in there for was just drawn there.

Used to browse merrits and richards toy sections.

Its about bringing people together its not all about purchasing.
When go back now dont recognise many feels like sense community lost a little.

was good peice on c4 news and newsnight tonight on demise of the high street.

For music it goes back to what mentioned earlier.

supermarkets will only have chart so will be harder for musicians to make their mark now and get into charts.surprised 69%of album market still cd.

I would like to see more independant clothes shops at reasonable prices with good service. struggle with cllthes they either too young or too old for me in my 30,s feel high street clothing limbo.

LesBOFerables Tue 15-Jan-13 23:22:04

I'm actually fairly lucky to live in an area which still has some thriving independent businesses left. It may not be Paris or London, but I'm not dependent on big chains for shopping or services, and I don't have to live practically on a ring road next to KwikFit or similar in order to lay claim to the amenities of a city. Long may it continue, but we live in shaky times.

coraltoes Wed 16-Jan-13 10:42:27

Definitely see this across London. Well heeled boroughs/ areas doing fine. Those on the edge, just about surviving, but I drove through Leyton (I think) recently and it was all fried chicken shops, betting shops and charity stores. Crouch end, islington, hampstead all doing ok, but you do still see the odd empty shop. They benefit from having a decent mix of chains and indies. Westfield in shep bush has killed hammersmith and the nearby uxbridge rd. I imagine Stratford Westfield did similar n east London

coraltoes Wed 16-Jan-13 10:46:02

Online shopping from net a porter has def seen me abandon the likes of selfridges. I can get something delivered same day within a two hour slot, try it on with all my other clothes/shoes, decide what to keep, what to return, and they send a driver to collect it at a convenient time. Their stock is awesome, the advice on site re. Sizing is always helpful and you don't have to queue, or get the tube and waste time wandering about. Definitely worth the £10 premium delivery fee.

Sleepysand Wed 16-Jan-13 11:16:34

As businesses start to go under, though, I would rather walk in with cash and buy something and take it away, than buy online and run the risk that I don't get it because the retailer has gone bust. I suppose if you paid with Visa you could get your money back (I think). But there were horror stories over HMV and the like - there is another thread that explores all the reasons why gift cards are basically a really bad choice at the moment.

Our council has priced our town out of the market - parking is £2 minimum and there are barely any shops, a situation that just spirals. Antiques shops and charity shops (basically stocking the same stuff) are the main strengths of our local town, along with pharmacies and opticians, probably because East Devon is basically God's waiting room and there is a lot of demand for that sort of thing.

I boycotted Tescum a long time ago, but I use the farm shop, Lidl, and Makro for food, and either drive to the bigger town 15 miles away or go online for other things. I never have much money left for them anyway!

millie0210 Wed 16-Jan-13 11:18:37

Yes I think small towns are really going to suffer and will become things of the past.I live in a small town and about half the shops are empty the rest are filled with eating places, coffee shops and bookies.

Sleepysand Wed 16-Jan-13 11:21:21

*I am interested to read Mary Portas's initiatives but to be honest at the end of the day, you just need free parking, and lots of it and lower rent and rates.

All the street theatre and yarn bombing in the world is pointless if people can't get there or park cheaply or for free. They just won't go*


Catriona100 Wed 16-Jan-13 12:52:29

So, now that Jessops and HMV have gone under, who is next?

I know that both were widely expected,but are there any other places where gift card holders would be well advised to spend them asap?

I was thinking that its years since BHS seemed busy. Ditto M&S. then there is Thorntons, argos and ???

Catriona100 Wed 16-Jan-13 12:54:47

Xenia - are you talking about "goodwill"? If so, its hardly a sophisticated idea.

ArtfulAardvark Wed 16-Jan-13 13:08:48

The problem is most of us dont have the time to fanny about wandering from shop to shop.

The small town I used to frequent I rarely do now since Woolworths went and the Oxfam bookstore its IMPOSSIBLE to park.

The larger town I use only occasionally because I dont WANT to pay £5 to park, avoid the charities and religions that want to speak to me, wander round shops which generally dont have what I want in stock.

Town visits are generally done with H and include going somewhere for lunch, otherwise I am definately an out of town and online shopper.

I agree totally with the poster who said about stores covering up the historic frontages of shops - I saw one somewhere the other day that I had never noticed was beautiful and they were working on it so Im guessing they had uncovered it prior to putting up a new covering for a new store. H pointed one out to me a couple of weeks ago, the bottom of the building was a hideously ugly frontage for an employment agency but the top of the building was just beautiful all carved georgian sandstone (such a shame) I did think at the time that If I had any photographic ability I would start taking pictures!!

I would be more inclined to mull in somewhere attractive.

Sleepysand Wed 16-Jan-13 13:12:54

Who's next? Thornton's, Argos, WHSmith, I would say. Jessops wasn't really big on the high street - a lot of people will barely have heard of them.

Others that must be feeling it - chains of low-end jewellers, any card shop, any of the high street bedding stores.

ArtfulAardvark Wed 16-Jan-13 13:19:22

My gut feeling, I have been saying it for a while: WH Smiths and Argos (although I do think people who follow the herd STILL think Argos is a cheap store)

I was right about Comet - I went in looking for an HDMI lead a couple of weeks before they closed and said to my son "this feels like a store thats going out of business" the only hdmi they had was a £50 monster one and they had no xboxes/playstations as I am guessing those companies would no longer supply them.

Sleepysand Wed 16-Jan-13 13:24:33

Argos were also running out of stock before Christmas - and shares are being sold off cheaper than last year's advent calendars. Argos has the worst of both worlds, really - you cannot see the goods til you buy and you have to park to go there. Morrisons won't fold yet but are struggling, with no "local" stores, no non-food, and no online stuff.

Catriona100 Wed 16-Jan-13 13:29:53

Edinburgh's Princes Street has to be one of the worst examples of stores replacing beautiful, historic facades with bland steel and glass frontages.

It was built as a private, rather grand, Georgian residences but the shops took over the area. Then, in the 1950s the town planners decided that no shop would be given planning permission to change the facade unless they built a first floor walkway across the front of the building. What a way to uglify a beautiful street!

Ilovemyteddy Wed 16-Jan-13 13:32:26

I would be surprised to see WH Smith go, although I dislike shopping there because their staff aren't very knowledgable and their shops are disorganised.

Their business was turned around by their CEO, Kate Swann, in 2011, although she is due to leave the company in the summer this year, so who knows what might happen.

ArtfulAardvark Wed 16-Jan-13 13:43:52

I always feel stressed and suffocated in WH Smith, hate it and having to wade through loads of men reading magazines when I want to BUY one is frustrating in the extreme.

On an amusing note I saw a lady huff out of Budgen a couple of weeks ago when she was told if she wanted to read the newspaper they they would prefer her to buy it LOL.

BsshBossh Wed 16-Jan-13 13:45:35

I live between two local high streets here in London - both are thriving because they are directly catering to specialised groups: one is a very ethnic high street with specialised independent shops (grocery stores, delis, cafes, restaurants, clothing, music/DVDs) for a couple of particular communities so, even though parking is difficult, it is thriving because it's catering to a specific demand; the other thriving high street near me is packed with small independent stores catering to a specific well-off community (young or retired professionals with money to spare) eg boutique clothing, delis, organic bakers, organic grocers, health foods, Aveda hair salon, Virgin Active gym, wooden toys etc. There are few chains on either high street - in the latter there is a Starbucks and Tesco Metro - but their independent equivalents seem to be just as busy/popular.

mindosa Wed 16-Jan-13 13:46:39

Shops that stock niche products and cater to a well off market have a chance of surviving in an affluent town but they need to really, really cater for their customers.
Fruit and Veg shops that deliver and butchers that stock and deliver traceable meats all have a future but they need to cater for the sort of customer that is willing to put in the effort to buy better goods.

Sadly the future for bog standard high st shops is pretty bleak and books, music, electronic suppliers are all under pressure

goldiehorn Wed 16-Jan-13 13:48:27

I am assuming that all of the people sorrowfully lamenting the end of the high street still always shop there, and never take advantage of the vastly more convenient large supermarkets, retail parks and online shopping?

People vote with their feet and this is the choice that the public have made. Shops cannot stay open if people are choosing to go elsewwhere.

BsshBossh Wed 16-Jan-13 13:48:44

The WHSmiths and Argos near me are both well-stocked (I particularly love Smith's wide variety of magazines) but have hardly any customers whenever I pop in. On this teeny sample basis I wouldn't be surprised if both close, despite haing been here locally for decades...

BsshBossh Wed 16-Jan-13 13:51:16

mindosa, agree entirely.

BsshBossh Wed 16-Jan-13 13:54:34

stubbornstains, many of the most recent items I've bought on Amazon have been fulfilled by small sellers, including toys and electrical wares. They were able to offer a competitive price and suitable delivery.

Sleepysand Wed 16-Jan-13 14:06:40

[WHS] was turned around by their CEO, Kate Swann, in 2011

well when I went into WHS (sounds like a line from a poem!) the other day, all that had changed was that they had crazy self service tills that made Tesco look efficient, charged for carrier bags, and had hidden what I wanted (refill pads of lined A4 paper and some pens) behind fifteen feet of half price chocolate and some soon-to-be-remaindered books by former BigBrother inmates. I couldn't find the paper, couldn't find an assistant, and went to Sainsbury's instead. Where I probably paid less for it all anyway. You can't made a silk purse out of a sow's ear - the high street market is smaller and depends on non-self service items that people will pay a premium for. If I want to rummage on the shelves and be told "unexpected item in the bagging area" I can go to Sainsbury's and do it way cheaper.

Catriona100 Wed 16-Jan-13 14:16:25

What about Boots? It was always packed in the 1980s and it sold records, electrical goods, household goods as well as the usual toiletries and make up. Nowadays, it is always empty and I, personally, always feel like I have overpaid whatever I buy there.

Surely Boots must be feeling the pinch too?

Sleepysand Wed 16-Jan-13 14:20:07

DS1 had a Saturday job at Boots, initially in a small store where some Saturdays they barely took enough to pay the wages. But in the large local town, they did really well. Boots has a good name for offering advice in its pharmacies, and a good online business too - and a loyalty scheme that keeps people coming back. I think they will reconfigure but remain - possibly not in small towns where the supermarket has a pharmacy though.

Bakingnovice Wed 16-Jan-13 14:36:49

Argos sound like they're in trouble. Reserved something online and had three wasted trips to collect following three pointless 'your item is ready to be collected' texts. Still no product as every time I went they said there was no stock and the texts came from another department. Pffffttt.

Our high street is full of pound shops, cheap takeaways with £1 meal deals (of horse meat burgers probably), cash for gold shops. It's depressing. Oh and you get to pay £1.80 per hour to park there.

ariadneoliver Wed 16-Jan-13 14:37:45

Looks like Blockbuster is the next to go, administrators called in.

freddiefrog Wed 16-Jan-13 14:42:11

I thought Blockbusters had already gone to be honest. Both branches here shut October time

freddie They shut a load to avoid administration. Seems it didn't work sad

goldiehorn Wed 16-Jan-13 14:56:56

Oh come on guys, are you really surprised that Blockbuster Video has gone bust? When did you last go into one?

Catriona100 Wed 16-Jan-13 14:59:53

1989... but they didn't have anything I wanted to watch!

Sleepysand Wed 16-Jan-13 15:03:14

blockbusters should have gone the Netflix/LoveFilm way - the management clearly didn't look ahead. Another load of redundancies. Quite a rollercoaster, these triple dips. Oddly I never seem to notice the up bits: just seems to have gone down three times confused and also blush as I re-read that bit with a dirty mind.

freddiefrog Wed 16-Jan-13 15:06:02

We used to go fairly regularly. We used to take the kids to choose a DVD for movie night a couple of times a month.

Our local blockbuster was in a little parade of shops which had lots of free parking. Then the council started charging £1.10 to park there for half an hour, installed an over zealous traffic warden so in the end It wasn't worh the bother still smarting at the £25 fine for over staying by 2 minutes

Then we got Netflix grin

Catriona100 Wed 16-Jan-13 15:07:50

I guess Clarks is safe, even though our local one offers non-existent customer service and only ever has one pair of shoes in DS's size, no matter what size he is at the time??

"blockbusters should have gone the Netflix/LoveFilm way"

Quite, especially as it took ages for LoveFilm and Netflix to make it over here. Blockbusters had a huge opportunity to jump in before them, it was a household name when they weren't. It could have totally flattened the competition.

Sleepysand Wed 16-Jan-13 15:15:31

And I bet the MD and Co-directors have still made a fortune, Murder, and the workforce will get Stat redundancy subsidised by the taxpayer. We're all rolling in it together!

Catriona, count yourself lucky - my DS's are all blessed with HUGE feet (14 yo has size 13 feet now) and we can only buy shoes online. The lack of anywhere to buy boys' shoes between sizes 6 and 8, except school shoes, is one niche, as is the provision of boys' clothes to fill the gap between age 14 M&S (age 10 for my boys) and small men's clothes.

OwlLady Wed 16-Jan-13 15:18:20

Boots are a pharmacy though, i imagine that props up quite a lot of the business (plus the cosmetics side)

my boys love blockbuster but it always reminds me of the apocalypse

OwlCatMouse Wed 16-Jan-13 15:18:24

Blockbuster do the postal rentals though, didn't it. They're actually better than Love Film for them (in my opinion anyway). Shame they didn't actually advertise it and bother to tell anybody!

I hope the online DVD rental doesn't go bust - even if the shops shut.

FarrahFawcettsFlick Wed 16-Jan-13 15:44:18

Is anyone going to name any towns/villages where there are independents for us to shop in - I would like them to have my money. Perhaps a new thread so we can make notes?

I'll offer Frome, Somerset.

Sleepysand Wed 16-Jan-13 15:52:36

I agree re Frome - a great place to shop - lots of beautiful and quirky things. I haven't been for a few years, but I would put in a vote for Alresford, in Hampshire, as well.

maddening Wed 16-Jan-13 16:04:42

I think that until councils lower business rates and sort out free parking then there is no way high streets will survive as they can't compete with online companies.

Sleepysand Wed 16-Jan-13 16:22:09

Farrah, I have started a thread - it is here - High Streets with a future

maddening Wed 16-Jan-13 16:25:40

Chester is still nice to shop in- parking is free after 3pm.

jellybeans Wed 16-Jan-13 17:00:37

I always thought it would be good if Blockbuster were like Lovefilm postal, eg they charge so much a month and you get unlimited rentals with say maybe 2 or 3 allowed at a time. They could give out cards etc. I would have preferred that to lovefilm as you could go choose what you wanted rather than wait to see what LF send you and wait for post.

I worry about WH Smiths, BHS, Boots. Hope Boots doesn't go bust!

FarrahFawcettsFlick Wed 16-Jan-13 17:45:21

Thanks Sleepy, off to thread now...

Ilovemyteddy Wed 16-Jan-13 17:48:23

SleepysandI agree with you that WHS doesn't look like it's changed at all, but they had healthy profits in 2011. Not seen anything for 2012.

I've always thought of Boots as being a company that is bucking the current trend of online and supermarket shopping. They seem to have a loyal customer base, even though it is more convenient to throw your toothpaste and shampoo in with your supermarket shopping. Maybe their model works because they have such a huge pharmaceuticals business and produce a lot of their own stuff. I love Boots and would far rather pays bit more for stuff there than get it in a supermarket or discount store.

YouOldSlag Wed 16-Jan-13 18:19:09

I'm amazed WHS is doing well. I find it extortionate. I usually go in there to see what's about, then go to another shop to actually buy it. Even their 3 for 2 offers are still really expensive.

I can't believe it's just their "bar of Aero for a pound" offer at the till that's keeping their profits up!

williaminajetfighter Wed 16-Jan-13 21:41:56

This is an interesting thread. My feeling is that the towns that have a thriving high street probably have a combination of (a) large number of pensioners (b) wealth and/or (c) tourism. Places like York, Oxford and Ludlow (which many reference) def seem to have a combination of the above. And let's be honest - a nice butchers and a green grocers is considered to be a luxury and often not always cheaper than the local supermarket where us 'plebs' have to shop!

I do, however, blame Councils for short-termism and being driven by income generation. Has anyone ever worked at a Council and seen the senior managers there? I have and it's dreadful. Many of them are saddo lifers, grey men wearing fleeces to work and going out for a smoke break between being paid 60k p.a. Not what I'd call a 'dynamic' environment; councils certainly don't recruit from Harvard!!

As we move to the internet maybe our high streets might change for the better - I wouldn't mind if they tore down the high street and created green space instead.

williaminajetfighter Wed 16-Jan-13 21:43:35

oh and I agree with WHSmith. What a mess. Crap everywhere. Candy plopped on countertops and in tubs by the queues. No real books. Messy as hell. Dreadful.

Darkesteyes Wed 16-Jan-13 21:59:50

I love Boots and would far rather pays bit more for stuff there than get it in a supermarket or discount store

Agreed I LOVE their No 7 brand. My mum always gets me a No 7 gift set for Christmas. Its one of the most popular cosmetic brands on the high street.

MandiandPops Wed 16-Jan-13 22:20:05

I know that there are lots of factors which have not helped the struggling high street retailers but I do wonder why we don't appear to be taking responsibility for the fact that they are struggling because we mainly shop online for a bargain mixed with the convincence of having it delivered and because it is hassle to go to the market/greengrocer/butcher and have to work out prices by weight. It comes down to laziness and social responsibility. I do it myself but do not try and blame the local council parking facilities or the layout of WH Smith.
Time to take some of the blame.

Darkesteyes Wed 16-Jan-13 22:35:25

Ive never internet shopped in my life. Ive always gone into town. i dont have a paypal account or a credit card.

alemci Wed 16-Jan-13 22:50:36

Yes it would be a shame and in some places the councils make it really unfavourable to shop in the towns.

where i live, if you are resident in the borough you can park free for 30 mins and another 20p for an hour. I do try and go to the high street but in this cold spell it is a quick dash to the supermarket in the car.

also January and trying not to spend. Hate the shops all being the same.

YouOldSlag Wed 16-Jan-13 23:15:54

Mandi- that's a valid argument but a lot of it boils down to finances. People are skint and Internet prices are cheaper. Supermarkets are cheaper and retail parks have free parking.

I've said it before and I'll say it again- free and plentiful parking, regular buses and a cab rank. If people can get to their high street and get home from there again easily, they will use it more.

If Amazon were forced to pay bloody tax they would have to put their prices up and we would use Waterstones again. HMV might have had a longer shelf life. If Councils lowered their rates and rents, there would be fewer empty shops.

We should welcome Pound shops and other bargain shops as they encourage footfall. Councils should encourage markets as they too encourage footfall.

People are skint and councils are greedy. When the councils make the connection they can start re-energising High Streets. It's no good Mary Portas coming up with yarn bombing and courses and street theatre. If people have to pay to park, they will go to a retail park where it's free.

GreenEggsAndNichts Thu 17-Jan-13 00:33:06

Okay. Well, all the shops in our town close by 5:30. Go read any retail thread here and you can see no one wants customers through the door anytime from 5:15 onwards. Most people work and are unable to make those hours. Shopping at the weekend is a nightmare because of it. I reckon shops should close on a set day (say, Monday) then open late a night or two a week.

Parking is also expensive and a general annoyance.

Our town centre is dying, but it's killing itself. Even if prices were the exact same online, I'd shop online. I only shop in town if it's coupled with something else, like going to lunch or the GP.

"Go read any retail thread here and you can see no one wants customers through the door anytime from 5:15 onwards."

I think people in retail wouldn't mind if they actually got paid overtime. In most retail though, if a customer walks in at 5:25 and then doesn't leave until after 6, you don't get paid for the extra time.

I know that in the few retail jobs where you got paid until the time you actually left there was no resentment for last minute shoppers. But if you only got paid until the shop closed in theory you quickly realised that;
a) you would leave on time maybe once a month
b) people that walk in at 5:15 are more likely to be "just browsing" than actually buying
c) at least once a week you will have to deal with an arsey customer who thinks you should be grateful to be serving them for free
d) last minute shoppers also tend to be very good at ignoring hints that you are closing, and some are even selectively deaf when you ask them to finish their shopping as you are closing

I think that's another problem wit much of retail, very little time and energy put into the staff.
If the staff are unhappy then it makes shopping less pleasant for the customers.
If the staff are paid a pittance then they are unlikely to do more than the absolute basics, which puts off customers.
If no time is put into staff training (knowledge about products, customer service etc) then people may as well shop online

I think a lot of the stores that are closing tried to compete with the internet stores on things they just couldn't compete on. And forgot to put energy/time/money into the things that the internet couldn't do. Which meant they were always on the backfoot.

Mandi It might be laziness, but at the same time, if it's what people want then retail should be working to provide those qualities. People shouldn't do things that are inconvenient/more expensive just because retail can't move with the times.

OwlCatMouse Thu 17-Jan-13 08:54:22


"I always thought it would be good if Blockbuster were like Lovefilm postal, eg they charge so much a month and you get unlimited rentals with say maybe 2 or 3 allowed at a time. They could give out cards etc. I would have preferred that to lovefilm as you could go choose what you wanted rather than wait to see what LF send you and wait for post. "

They do almost this. You can pick and choose some of the discs, and you can prioritise the order so you have much more influence over what you get.

We have 3 allowed at a time, unlimited number of rentals. Turnaround is faster than LoveFilm as well (much much faster IME).

Wouldn't recommend setting up an account with them just at the moment though! wink

YouOldSlag Thu 17-Jan-13 09:02:50

High Street shops need to ask one question- what does the customer want?

the customer needs sshops to be open after they've foinished work and not just whilst they are working and can't go, and they need to be able to get there without having to pay a premium for the privelege.

Sadly retail parks can do both these things, but if you can't or don't drive, you're stuck with the dying High Street.

YouOldSlag Thu 17-Jan-13 09:03:10

Sorry about appalling typos!

gazzalw Thu 17-Jan-13 09:22:01

In the past (well within my living memory) I would have said that high streets were constantly morphing....I am old enough to remember when the arrival of supermarkets became a big issue. In the 70s, 80s and 90s there was constant change on the high street with the arrival and departure of household name chains (and the small independent ones too). I can easily remember the advent of Waterstones, Next, Borders, H&M etc....There was a time not so many decades ago when Topshop seemed to be a bit of an anachronism but not any more....

The issue is that in recent years the number of new shops on the high street and the type of products they are selling has in a way ground to a halt. Just as we want to see new stuff in the food aisles we want new blood injected into our high streets and of late that just hasn't happened.

DW has always loved her shopping but her interest has waned markedly, even with Christmas shopping which she always used to really enjoy. She comes home saying "same old, same old" and really doesn't even bother going into a lot of shops because she is not inspired.

There is an issue that in a recession the shops play it safe even with the type of merchandise they are selling but in doing so they run the risk of being regarded as stocking boring goods. If your customers think that they won't shop there...

I think this notion of turning some retail units into housing is a good one. Get people living in the high streets and they will use them...

And I'm sorry but in this time of recession, although it would be lovely to pay the extra couple of pounds to buy on the high street, most people simply can't afford to...they will look for the best deal.

But what I have noticed is that the number of coffee shops/restaurants is not going down with the recession at all. So it is not entirely to do with consumers not having the buying power but more a shift in what they are prepared to spend their money on...

Agree with all the issues about free parking etc....

OiMissus Thu 17-Jan-13 10:08:01

Times they are a changing.
The truth is, the consumers don't want little high street shops any more. Not in vast enough numbers to allow profitability.
The independent high street shops couldn't compete with the chain, the high street died. Now the chains haven't changed their business models in line with consumer demand - so it's their turn to die. The shops that are dying are the tech-related goods retailers - they simply can't compete with online retailers. Consumers want good/fast, or cheap/fast. we're used to asking for info/stuff and getting it immediately.
The high street needs to change.
Residential properties are obvious and a good idea, but in order to encourage people to get out and interact with others, we need something more interesting than coffee shops and hairdressers (stuff we can't do online).
The other thing that needs to happen is we need a better way to send stuff back to online retailers. Maybe local post offices could start offering a 'we'll pack it and ship it' service. Maybe a Ebay On The High Street - somewhere you could take your things to sell, and leave them to do all work for you, for a commission.
Malls win because they are weatherproof, offer free parking, and really easy to negotiate with a pram/wheelchair etc - no kerbs or door jambs.

alemci Thu 17-Jan-13 10:10:41

yes the ebay shop is a good idea in some ways especially if items are bulky and difficult to post.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Thu 17-Jan-13 10:11:12

Good post. And the places which are flourishing with independents are used by the people who have the money and the inclination to want to support local businesses. And they also like to think they are the type of person to do this, so they spread the word, which in turn encourages other similar people to do the same.

GreenEggsAndNichts Thu 17-Jan-13 10:44:19

MurderofGoths I waited tables for many years in my early 20's, I'm well aware of how long customers can languish whilst I'm paid nearly nothing for the privilege of cleaning up after them an hour + after we close. grin

I think I said in my post that shops should consider later opening hours. I don't blame retail staff for being irritated when customers show up late, but since we're in a thread about "why people don't want to shop on the high street", I think it's a valid point. Shops in small towns aren't open late enough for people to easily visit after work, and more people work now.

The price and inconvenience of parking also keeps us out of town.

I think small shops that take the initiative to have a web presence as well are the ones that have staying power.

I agree GreenEggs Current opening hours just aren't convenient.

gazzalw Thu 17-Jan-13 10:51:43

That's an interesting point about the shops being more flexible in opening/closing times....

DW was commenting that on our local high street most of the shops don't open until after 9.30 am (if not 10.00 am some days) and for those parents who drop off from the school run and then just go and do their shopping/admin chores, there's often a half an hour pause which either drives one into a coffee shop (what's the alternative in this cold weather) or deters one from going to high street in the first place...

Perhaps high streets need to consider alternating their opening hours on different week days and synching them to the banks etc.... And perhaps consider offering cheaper if not free parking on the low foot-fall days of the week? In this economic climate the shops and councils need to be chasing/courting the shopper not the other way round....

MoreBeta Thu 17-Jan-13 10:57:56

In the last 3 days I got a whole load of clothes for the children, table mats and champagne glasses, wine and food all delivered to my door from online retailers.

One of those retailers was John Lewis which also has shops on the high street. Multi channel online and high street is the way of the future. Next is another retailer that has done this multi channel shift very well indeed and is prospering

Jins Thu 17-Jan-13 11:28:16

John Lewis has become a place to display the big ticket goods that can be bought online. Some things can be bought off the shelf but most are out of stock and have to be ordered.

I think it's the way forward. Most of us go to look at something in store and then go home to find it cheaper on the internet nowadays.

garlicblocks Thu 17-Jan-13 11:43:45

Some stores are developing mobile apps, theoretically so you can instantly order the item you're looking at in the store. I know some have been looking into automatic price-matching with their apps, too. Don't know how any of this is progressing but it's an interesting approach to the issue.

YouOldSlag Thu 17-Jan-13 11:53:35

Hi Jins,

There was an article about that recently where a journo tried to buy something on the High Street that he could take home the same day and he couldn't do it. He couldn't even buy a lamp!

Although I shop online for a specific item, I also like to come home with something new and once that thrill's gone, then there's little point going to shops in person if they just become galleries. I love coming home with new stuff, and it's not because I'm materialistic, I't just an age old feeling, like getting a little present.

mam29 Thu 17-Jan-13 13:10:13


comments about smiths made me chuckle they always trying to flog me reduced chocs.

But they so cheap for books.

They invested heavily in kobo e readers not sure why as kindles control market and kobo more pricey.

stationary/toys agree complete mess.

not sure if local still does fags security guard follows most people around.

not very competative cds/dvds/

They really dont have that many stores and I live in big bristol they were never every suberb like woolies was the city centre has 1, out town mall has one. infact can ponly think of 3large stores plus airport/2train stations maybe thats where they make their money?

Boots has most generous loyalty card
opticians in some stores-always dead
love the kids clothes sadly they dont do much online
but self service in all local shops fear has been a mistake
in same was saisburys its turn off.

I would pay more and visit more often to have human contact
plus it means less staff get employed.

I think argos will survive bit longer yet not sure about homebase we brought sofa from them and its dreadful.

blockbusters thourght had gone or was franchised never use anymore.

I think independants have to open later my green grocer in roath when lived in cardiff was open until 7-8pm at night.

maybe every high street should offer late night shopping once a week not just xmas.

Theres nothing like going shopping coming home with bag in hand and meeting up with my freinds, its social ocassion.

Onlines all well and good but many inflexible on delivery slots nothing worse than sorry we misssed you and have to go depot/sorting office miles away.

At xmas mini micro used odd courier who lost the scooter.
Their depot was chaos was 12 of us standing there stressed while they tried to locate parcels not to mention yodel who deliver to untrustworthy neighbours you dont know, fake signatures and throw over garden gate.

TheSecondComing Thu 17-Jan-13 18:39:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

7-8pm I would.

Darkesteyes Thu 17-Jan-13 22:41:11

talking about this on Question Time now. Grant Shapps is dragging out the Mary Portas defence.

FiveGoMadInDorset Thu 17-Jan-13 22:42:59

Our high street is thriving in both our small market town and our larger county town.

GreenEggsAndNichts Fri 18-Jan-13 11:20:35

I watched this on QT last night as well. I think the dark-haired woman (sorry, I didn't watch the introduction so I wasn't sure who was who) fumbled in her blame of internet companies. She made her statement but then was asked to list the tax advantages internet companies have, she couldn't list any, just said they had them and that oh, Amazon avoided tax last year, and that's not right.

Well I think we've learnt that all kind of companies are avoiding tax, it's not just limited to the internet. It's the fact that those companies are big enough to have an international presence that leaves them able to take advantage of these lax tax laws here. So if the argument is "don't shop at large shops with locations around the world, only shop with local traders", then make that argument.

Internet companies have advantages, of course; that's how they can undercut high street shops. I just didn't think the correct arguments were made. Internet companies avoid high street rents (a big expenditure) as well as extra personnel (they employ people, of course, but not locally, and not in the numbers which high street shops have to). The government effectively closed the tax loophole which, etc were using last year when they restricted the amount of tax-free shopping they could ship from Jersey. (Not coincidentally, has announced they'll be stopping their retail business in March this year. As soon as they had to compete at regular prices, they lost their market)

And I love Mary Beard but her comments were also just an editorial on how she likes to touch things in shops. grin

A politician (again, don't know his name) mentioned a retail park near him and how much easier it is for people to shop there: free parking, and no worry about children being around cars etc as you're walking around to shop. Hell, he had me at "free parking." smile

I'm lucky enough that I'm in a market town and if I want the social experience, I can go to the market for veg and the other things a market does best. However, I admit, I really enjoy being able to order things online, and I know I'm not alone.

BadLad Fri 18-Jan-13 12:47:59

So if the argument is "don't shop at large shops with locations around the world, only shop with local traders", then make that argument.

I would love to, when back in the UK, but in the current economic climate, everybody is struggling, and it is hard to tell anyone that they should forego lower prices (if that is what the large shops offer).

YouOldSlag Fri 18-Jan-13 13:17:57

The Ideal High Street (this is my opinion) would have parking,
2.regular buses,
3.a busy cab rank,
4.well stocked shops that you can shop in even when you're skint (there is a place for Poundland, it gets footfall),
5. a regular market,
6. some jolly buskers,
7. extended opening hours so that nine to fivers don't have to do everything on a Saturday
8. lower rent and rates so you can get some nice independent shops in there too.
9. Some outdoor food outlets to waft tasty coffee and cake type smells about.
10. Benches for a nice sit down.

gazzalw Fri 18-Jan-13 14:03:00

And I would add, decent loos....It is actually getting more and more difficult to go shopping on the high street and spend any length of time shopping without stopping for a drink or something to eat (which you don't always or can't always afford to do...). Even the retail parks don't seem to have toilets these days...

YouOldSlag Fri 18-Jan-13 14:17:21

Very true, and I speak as someone who has to pee about 20 times a day. They need loos, family loos and Disabled loos. If they want people to spend a few hours there, High Streets must have loos, food and drink.

Catriona100 Fri 18-Jan-13 15:41:15

I manage my tax liability, you evade paying tax, he is a tax cheat... its one of those what-do-you-call-thems like I am eccentric, you are odd, he is barking mad!

Tax management is as old as tax itself, its just people have got really worked up about it recently.

YouOldSlag Fri 18-Jan-13 17:33:22

It's true, offshore banking and offshore shelf companies have been a mainstay for many successful businesses over the years and that's nothing new.

However, public feeling about Amazon is in a poor state as we feel cheated that Amazon (and ebay, and Starbucks) are profiting from us but not profiting the UK in anyway.

It's also leaving as bad taste in the mouth that HMV, a company almost 100 years old, Woolworths, Blockbusters and Comet have all been killed off by Amazon and eBay's ability to undercut High Street prices.

I'm not saying we should pay higher prices to keep businesses afloat, but the above-named High Street shops have all paid UK tax and are now out of business, with thousands of job losses

Amazon is just pocketing profits and taking the piss.

GreenEggsAndNichts Sat 19-Jan-13 01:08:28

You can say that, and parts of it I agree with, but some of them died due to their own inability to adapt. Most people have LoveFilm or whatever now; I'm amazed Blockbuster lasted this long. I don't have LoveFilm myself, but if I were keen on renting films, I'd use it. I haven't been inside a Blockbuster in probably 10 years. I still remember why: they had ridiculously high late fees. It took them years to get into line with other rental options and extend their rental periods/ lower their late fees. They eeked out a few more years by expanding their game rental options.

Tesco and Asda undercut HMV and other high street shops, as well. HMV was comically expensive by comparison; there was no way I could justify paying their prices anymore.

I think the only way to avoid that sort of undercutting is to introduce a system like Germany has, where shops can't discount an item more than a certain amount below its RRP. I don't like this option, personally, but it would favour high street shops.

Amazon and all the other tax evaders, well, it does grate. The tax laws need to be changed, though. You just can't expect companies to "do the right thing" when it comes to profits. I wonder how many UK-only shops would do the same if they had the same option those international companies do.

mam29 Sat 19-Jan-13 12:10:57

Im intrigued to know if high streets gone same way in europe?

or is this uk thing?

been to various euro countries on hols sadly not recently but

paris-chains yes but independants also

copehgagen same-denmark quite pricey too.

greece-loads independants the big cities had a few chains, spain similar.

I was watching sky news with envy today.

Yesterday they were in Abergavennny was funny as mam said it wasent that bad there.

Today nearby crickhowell more a village than town no chains and green griocer saying how hes personally delivered to locals, stayed open and well stocked when hear about freind whos food delivery been cancelled despite roads being clear near her in reading.

We had snow and had no shopping yesterday.

Today hubby went spar as nearest yes its a chain but think its a franchise.

Co-op has amazon lockers now.

must admit have used amazon over xmas for couple things.

Im changing way do foodshop from no on and buying all my meat from local independants.

Agree the question time debate over high street was rubbish.

The mart portas pilots ended

im hlaf tempte to visit debminster at some point this year see ho its changed.

I suspect it be like a stage when pilot running then when all attention gone go back to normal

Thinking banning tesco for good.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Sat 19-Jan-13 14:13:47

Interesting about Europe. The country I know best is France, and they have supermarkets everywhere along with vast hypermarchés. But their small town shops seem to be thriving at the same time. What's the difference. Anyone know anything about French commercial life?

alemci Sat 19-Jan-13 14:38:21

When I went to Auxerre ( a while back) the relatives we stayed with shopped in the indoor market in the town centre. Produce seemed to be more local

I think towns with markets in the UK probably fair better than those who don't but I could be wrong.

GreenEggsAndNichts Sat 19-Jan-13 15:37:56

As I said a couple of posts ago, Germany has restrictions on how much a shop can discount its goods. This means there aren't huge variables in prices in shops for the same branded goods. This is a big part of the reason Asda/Wal-Mart failed there; they were unable to employ their usual practice of undercutting all the shops in town until they're forced to close.

It's also how Aldi/Lidl started there- so there's still a discount option in the market, it's just that the goods aren't branded.

I don't know about France and other countries; perhaps someone else can comment?

garlicblocks Sat 19-Jan-13 16:39:12

Very interesting about German price controls, GreenEggs, thanks!

Out-of-town hypermarkets hit French villages very badly indeed. It was a major issue well before it happened here - I think the impact was more drastic because France has many more small, rural communities. I don't know whether, or how, this was addressed - I recall State interventions being mooted - or if local businesses managed to reinvent themselves. Can anyone update??

garlicblocks Sat 19-Jan-13 16:53:32

Ah ... After the successes of super- and hyper-markets and amid fears that smaller stores would be forced out of business, France enacted laws that made it more difficult to build hypermarkets and also restricted the amount of economic leverage that hypermarket chains can impose upon their suppliers (the Loi Galland).

In order to address buyer power problems and the imbalance in supplier-retailer relations, the Loi Galland (Galland Law, 1996) instituted a ban on selling below cost of production.

Despite pressure to change this, the ban was retained in the amendments made by the Loi Dutreil II (September 2005).

Loi Dutreil II also limited retrospective payments and extra “service cost fees” (^marges arrières^) that retailers were asking from suppliers. The new law also requires that contracts between a retailer and its supplier clearly state all pricing terms with no hidden discounts, and has introduced new procedures for penalising offenders.

Discussion here (pdf)

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Sat 19-Jan-13 20:14:09

So Germany and France, the economic leaders of Europe, can exert control over this but the UK apparently can't? You can definitely see France, a much more centralised state passing this, but Germany is a federal power. Well done them.

garlicblocks Sat 19-Jan-13 20:48:53

I fail to understand the English revulsion for price controls. We fetishise free enterprise to a lunatic degree - I sometimes think you can see our background as the world's thieves and dustbin in everything we do! If a business cannot make its margins without ripping other businesses off, it's badly run.

In fact, the assumption does British marketers a huge disfavour; we're world leaders in creative positioning, added value and so forth. A bit of ground-levelling via restricted prices, rents and rates could do much to set this creativity free. Even the US operates more controls than we do! I see nothing to be proud of in setting ourselves up as champions of the race to the bottom.

garlicblocks Sat 19-Jan-13 20:50:10

I meant "the world's thieves and scrap merchants".

HouseOfTinsel Sat 19-Jan-13 21:07:22

Following on from the thing about high streets needing to have facilities, yes they do.

People go to out of town shopping centres because they are EASIER and more COMFORTABLE.

Parking - free
Nice(ish) loos - free
Wheelchair access / easy underfoot
Well lit
Out of the cold and wet

Obviously the high street will struggle to compete with some of that, but planners need to wake up to the fact that most people won't change their habits to 'shop local' out of conscience - they will use town centres when they are pleasant and hospitable places to be.

gazzalw Mon 21-Jan-13 08:28:30

I think you need the whole package. You should be able to go to your high street knowing that you can do your banking chores, go to the library, have a coffee/meal and have access to free and clean loos, do a variety of shopping including top-up food shopping and come home with your to do list ticked off in its entirety.

DW was saying only the other day that it's often the case that one high street (and we are twixt several so have choice) doesn't serve all basic needs and then you find yourself having to do several shopping trips instead of one. Much as she hates the concept of a "one shop serves all" approach that the hypermarkets have, you can see why they've come to dominate urban areas at the expense of high street shops. In a time-poor society it's easier to do all one's shopping under one roof albeit a far inferior and lacklustre experience generally.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now