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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.

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.

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.

garlicblocks Sat 19-Jan-13 20:50:10

I meant "the world's thieves and scrap merchants".

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.

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 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)

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??

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?

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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 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.

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).

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.

FiveGoMadInDorset Thu 17-Jan-13 22:42:59

Our high street is thriving in both our small market town and our larger county town.

Darkesteyes Thu 17-Jan-13 22:41:11

talking about this on Question Time now. Grant Shapps is dragging out the Mary Portas defence.

MurderOfGoths Thu 17-Jan-13 18:41:02

7-8pm I would.

TheSecondComing Thu 17-Jan-13 18:39:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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.

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.

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