So Jessops has been announced as the latest firm on the UK high street to go into administration, following in the footsteps of the likes of Woolworths and Comet. This is a tragedy for the people that work in those businesses and for the high streets themselves that take on an abandoned look with gaps where many thriving businesses used to be.
The cause of all this devastation is, of course, the advent of online shopping (apart from Woolwoths who ceased to stock anything anyone wanted in about 1980). You no longer need to trudge around town being greeting by either overbearing or absent shop assistants in order to buy, well, nearly anything. Some items you still need to see and feel but I definitely don’t need to feel my next washing machine.
There was a time when you might go to a retailer for valuable advice but again these days there is so much advice and some would say too much, online. Everyone is a critic and willing to pen a review of their washing machine it would seem.
Is there anyone to gain from these closures? Well in a small way I think that there might just be an opportunity for a come back of the local specialist retailers. There is a very good camera shop in my home town and I would expect and hope that they will continue to thrive. And while I don’t want to wish to the death of HMV it does seem that it’s days are numbered but that could be a blessing to the local independent record shops we have selling vinyl and long forgotten cds. I also find that I am using my local newsagent more and more rather than plunge into the depressing world that is WH Smith.
None of this will replace the volume that was flowing through the high street but those days are over and online is where it is at and retailers are having to adapt – ‘clicks and mortar’, some more successfully than others, John Lewis seeming to be a positive role model. But it would be nice to see more independents on the high street again rather than the multiples and maybe now is their time to shine?
Photo: Steve Bowbrick