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Here's why it's not all gloom on the High Street

PUBLISHED: 09:15 29 November 2017 | UPDATED: 09:15 29 November 2017

High Streets have changed, and not all for the bad, says Sharon Griffiths.

High Streets have changed, and not all for the bad, says Sharon Griffiths.

Archant

Our High Streets are changing - but it's not all gloom, says Sharon Griffiths.

It’s all my fault. I have personally killed the High Street. Apart from food, I do most of my shopping via the internet. Sorry.

From the moment more than 20 years ago when I realised all I could sit at the computer and stuff would just turn up on the doorstep, I was a convert. It’s easy and painless and saves so much time and hassle.

“Why wouldn’t you?” said my 82-year-old neighbour, who has fallen out of love with driving and transferred her affections to her tablet and the joys of cyber shopping. She’s very grand.

“My mother used to order everything from the Army and Navy Stores,” she said. “This is just the same only with far more choice.” She definitely has a better class of delivery van.

It’s not just us. We’re all deserting town centres in droves. Actual shopping in actual shops is going down every year. There weren’t even any punch-ups on Black Friday because everyone was bagging their bargains on line.

We might all talk fondly about the need for a vibrant town centre but actually we’re voting with our feet – or rather with our fingers - and, despite our fine words, shopping on our phones, iPads or computers. Maybe town centres have just got too difficult and expensive to get to.

And it’s not all gloom.

While hundreds of small real shops – and even plenty of big names – have gone, new businesses are sprouting up. There are no longer so many secondhand bookshops to browse away an hour or more but there are thousands of people selling books online and the chances of finding the one you want are much higher. Small businesses, even one-man/woman operations find an instant market place online.

When I couldn’t find the shoes I wanted in town, I ended up buying them from a private shoe shop in the north of Scotland. A favourite childhood book for which searched for years, turned up in a click from a bookshop in Manchester.

The High Street is changing. It’s not just shops - banks, travel agents, building societies and estate agents are closing up, leaving town centres for charity shops, coffee shops wine bars and nail bars and those shops selling all those attractive and unusual things that we can totally live without but are quite fun to buy.

That’s why most of the real shopping I do is on holiday – partly because I’ve got the time to browse and partly because holiday places are full of those sort of shops and somehow it’s part of a holiday to enjoy a little extravagance, even if it’s only a bar of scented soap or a pretty mug.

The High Street used to be where we went for things we needed. Now the things we need are online and the High Street is increasingly for pleasure.

Is that really so bad?

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