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What will happen to our towns if we all shop online?

(140 Posts)
Kali2 Thu 13-Jan-22 20:25:48

This is not meant to criticise those who choose to shop on line, And I totally get that Covid has encouraged so many more to do so.

But what then? Shops are closing, pubs are closing, independent cafés and restaurants are replaced by chains. Charity shops multiply.

Are we truly happy, or at least unconcerned- that our town centres are slowly dying? One of the things we love about our lovely market town, is the independent shops and cafés, the ironmongers, the butchers and fish shop, fruit and veg. Covid has been a disaster- if we don't return in person- that will be the final nail in their coffin.

And I for one will misss them for sure. Won't you?

kittylester Fri 14-Jan-22 13:44:39

Leicester is worse than either Kali's market town or ours. Nottingham seems to be in a better position. Can't speak for Coventry. I never found it very appealing even when we lived there.

We are lucky that we have a thriving and well respected University and are close to the motor ways, airport and technology centres. As well as a huge distribution centre for the long river company sp our town is always reasonably busy.

Calistemon Fri 14-Jan-22 14:04:04

We're doomed, I tell you, doomed.

New shops seem to have opened in a slightly larger market town near us and it was really busy last time I went. In fact, incredibly busy despite the fact there are no large shops.

Retailers do a lot of research into footfall etc before they decide to open in another town and it just takes one larger store to close for people to decide to shop elsewhere too.

Kali2 Fri 14-Jan-22 14:24:22

Doomed? Who on earth said that? Are you denying that town centres are on the decline, that Covid has made it worse, and that more and more people buy online?

Kali2 Fri 14-Jan-22 14:29:23

Mind you- large shopping centres are not spared. Went to Elliots Fields near Rugby recently, and the huge Debenhams looked to forlorn. Same in the Shires in Leicester- as well as other empty shops.

Kali2 Fri 14-Jan-22 14:32:36

so forlorn

M0nica Fri 14-Jan-22 15:34:47

Nothing would persuade me to shop from Amazon, apart from the way they try to deceive you into using their expensive free delivery service, they are tax cheats

Since I stopped using them, may be 5 years ago, I have found it just as easy to buy anything I want online. To start with there is ebay. For books, I go to Waterstones; I use biblio.co instead of Abe books, which is owned by Amazon.

MayBeMaw Fri 14-Jan-22 15:45:53

But what then? Shops are closing, pubs are closing, independent cafés and restaurants are replaced by chains

This is not unconnected with Covid but principally because of the massive reduction in footfall in our urban centres because a high % have been and are still working from home.
It’s not online shopping or Amazon although that has fed into reduced numbers in shops. It’s not that long since only essential ie food shopping was the only sort permitted.
Of course the high street took a hit but if it had been thriving pre-pandemic, it would have fought through.
No the decline in our high streets started a long time ago, long before internet shopping proliferated in the way it has in the last 2 years . The pandemic merely accelerated the decline and hammered a few nails into the coffin.
Pubs, cafes and restaurants were obliged to close either directly or indirectly because of the catastrophic fall in numbers of commuters and office workers. Once lockdown started to ease there was the massive double whammy of a shortage of staff in the hospitality sector, many who lost their jobs during the pandemic having moved to other forms of employment. Not everybody was furloughed.
So I fear you have massively over simplified both the causes and the timescale of the decline of our high streets.
May I refer you to reports such as this
www.thegrocer.co.uk/high-street/how-can-we-stop-britains-high-streets-becoming-ghost-towns/654096.article
And this www.theweek.co.uk/104224/what-is-driving-the-collapse-of-high-street-shops
In the latter article some blame is laid at the door o internet shopping , if you open the link you will see this:
The most commonly cited cause of the high street’s demise is the rise of internet shopping, which is seen as having had a dramatic impact on the way people shop
But just 18.1% of retail purchases in the UK are made online, according to recent figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), indicating that it isn’t the internet alone that is responsible for the high-street hit.
Researchers at A&M and Retail Economics say that over the past five years, companies have had to spend 10.8% more cash on costs including wages, rents and business rates.

Kali2 Fri 14-Jan-22 15:52:52

Very interesting post and links, thanks.

I studied town development as part of my Degree in the 80s- and yes, town centres and shops were already under threat by out of town shopping centres.

Covid and shopping on line have put massive added pressure however. It would be interesting to see the ages of those 18.1 %.

Calistemon Fri 14-Jan-22 17:45:50

It would be interesting to see the ages of those 18.1 %.

I would think that all age ranges shop online but that older people often find it more convenient. They may be less interested in spending for the sake of it, too, as many younger people seem to do now with cheap, throwaway fashion (unfortunately).

Does the 18.1% include food as so many of us order groceries online now?

Business rates went up enormously and forced some local retailers out of business too.

Grammaretto Fri 14-Jan-22 19:58:34

Although our small town is ok for the time being, for me at least, I think the trend is for young people to shop entirely on-line. We shall be telling our DGC what shops were. You mark my words. grin
The young woman who used to share my house bought everything online and sometimes 3 parcels a day would arrive from Amazon or the like.
I got fed up with answering the door and taking in her packages so asked her what on earth she was buying. "Oh, she said, clothes and shoes mostly. I get lots and return them if they don't fit"

Zoejory Fri 14-Jan-22 20:02:46

Our High Street has been going downhill for years.

But I'm to blame. I buy everything online.

Hetty58 Fri 14-Jan-22 20:03:52

The high street was dying (or changing) long before Covid. There will still be many shops, just not so many supermarkets or clothing outlets. I won't miss them.

watermeadow Fri 14-Jan-22 20:22:36

My little town is thriving, empty shops are soon reopened, often as more coffee shops. You can’t buy many things locally and bus services have been decimated so, if you don’t drive, you have to buy things on-line.
I wanted bird food today. Locally I can buy small bags at a high price. To get to our nearest big town with a Wilko by bus would take 4 hours, there and back (bus once a week)
In a week I’ve ordered on-line a footstool, quilt wadding, a dog coat and the bird food.

MerylStreep Fri 14-Jan-22 20:24:53

Kali2

Doomed? Who on earth said that? Are you denying that town centres are on the decline, that Covid has made it worse, and that more and more people buy online?

You did in your OP.

Grammaretto Fri 14-Jan-22 20:49:15

It wasn't the OP Meryl
I agree with you Hetty. I may miss Lidl and Tesco if they go but they are always busy. We get used to everything in the end
Tomorrow we are holding an exhibition of the shops that used to be in our town. It's part of a Heritage project.

MerylStreep Fri 14-Jan-22 20:53:48

Gramarreto
I refer you to the 2nd paragraph of the OP.

Kali2 Fri 14-Jan-22 21:07:14

MerylStreep

Kali2

Doomed? Who on earth said that? Are you denying that town centres are on the decline, that Covid has made it worse, and that more and more people buy online?

You did in your OP.

No, I did not. Thanks.

Buffy Sun 16-Jan-22 10:38:51

I’d love to know where all you people live in the small towns with independent butchers, greengrocers etc., In our small city even the charity shops are closing. It’s depressing to walk through town except on market days.

Silvertwigs Sun 16-Jan-22 10:44:04

Kali2 I so am with you! Covid has altered the already struggling high street for ever. It’s so sad and true Lily depressing to see empty shops and boarded up shops. Where I live there’s nail shops, barber shops and £ shops - horrible! 👹

Calistemon Sun 16-Jan-22 10:46:42

Kali2

MerylStreep

Kali2

Doomed? Who on earth said that? Are you denying that town centres are on the decline, that Covid has made it worse, and that more and more people buy online?

You did in your OP.

No, I did not. Thanks.

Me, it was me!! 🙃

It seemed to be a thread comparing Britain unfavourably with the rest of Europe even though the OP says her own market town is wonderful, which is confusing.

Ps for those who didn't realise, it is a line from Dad's Army
"We're doomed I tell you, doomed"
#Private Frazer

icanhandthemback Sun 16-Jan-22 10:49:09

One of the biggest problems with shops closing in the town centres is that the Councils won't get the exorbitant council taxes they charge. We looked at a small shop in our local town and it was £30,000 for the Council Tax alone. How on earth do small businesses survive with overheads like this?

Worthingpatchworker Sun 16-Jan-22 10:49:11

My view is…..like all life experience……things will change. Customers wishes and wants change and shopping does that too. Look to the past and that can be seen. Market day was ‘the big day’. I, personally, love independent shops. I’ve disliked going to another town to find the stores all the same.
Parking is another issue affecting town which is why the retail villages etc do well.
I find the changes fascinating. Marks and Spencer has changed too, by taking on Seasalt, Jaeger, Sosander etc…..

Naninka Sun 16-Jan-22 10:50:34

How do you tag someone's name?

Coco51 Sun 16-Jan-22 10:51:15

Since Covid I have only been to local post office (half hour wait to get to front of queue) and to a specialist camera warehouse. There is not nearly enough Blue Badge parking in local towns and the city, and I will not be travelling on public transport because of Covid. Local councils have to get to grips with parking and business rates and not keep wailing that our town centres are dying. People will only shop locally if a) the shops are enough of an attraction and b) they can afford to pay higher prices than can be got online

mokryna Sun 16-Jan-22 10:57:40

Pre covid. When I was visiting Australia I wanted to but an iPad and went to the local shop. A young man showed the pad I wanted to buy. I hesitated but without asking he went on the web saw the best price and offered to sell for the same.
The same shop in France I wanted to buy an iPad cover. It wasn’t in stock, I asked when the next delivery would arrive and was surprised to be told it would be better to go on the web. I didn’t. I waited a week for the next delivery.
Many people want goods yesterday at the cheapest price.