It is sad to see the demise of the high street and to me, Letchworth as you knew it as a town centre was sad then, We had a lot more shops to choose from in the 70’s and 80’s for sure. We had the demise of the record store and the loss of a lot of shops both in Letchworth , Hitchin and Stevenage, You won’t remember places like Chelsea Girl, Jean City (?) and C&A. And Letchworth is a bit of a funny fish when it comes to shopping (as far as the large stores are concerned) I remember the only place you could find popcorn seeds was in Letchworth market at a little stall that sold mainly Indian spices. (I can smell it right now!) Not to mention the smell of the Hot Bread Shop every morning…..omg….that was one thing you never found in the us as far as my 10 year old life had experienced! I wish there was a cookie cutter formula for businesses today to stay present on the high street and also on the net. Big Bad Amazon (rumour be told) seem to be dipping their toes onto the real life high street. It will be an interesting future , that’s for sure!
I don’t know about you, but when I was a teenager, I used to roam my local town centre and could find anything I could possibly think of; we had an Argos, indoor market, toy stores, independent clothes shops, menswear stores – I always knew I could find an outfit for a night out or a last minute present.
We’ve still got the essentials and popular chain stores, but we’ve lost so much since the days when I could strut into town and come home with endless bags on my arms. So what’s happened to our high street?
Our town has become a ghost town, full of empty stores, restaurants and coffee shops (I would have said charity shops, but we’ve recently lost one – how can we have lost a charity shop?!) with budget stores (we’ve still got a Poundland, Home Bargains and Pound Stretcher still) replacing places like Woolworths – remember them? I know it was a while ago, but let me cling to my memories of purchasing my first cassette tape – menswear places like Burton standing empty and independent jewellers being replaced by specialist beer bars.
There have always been better places to go, but why is everything disappearing before our eyes?
According to ParcelHero’s David Jinks, between 2020 and 2030 half of the UK’s existing shop premises will have disappeared. 100,000 stores will close, leaving just 120,000 shops on our high street. And that’s because by 2030 e-commerce will account for around 40 per cent of all UK retail sales.
40% of all purchases will be on the high street in 2030?! That’s a bloody insane figure and something I find exciting and sad at the same time. Exciting because the Internet has created an exciting new world for us with more opportunities that we don’t even know about yet, but sad because we’ve lost a lot of jobs, social interaction, and the need to get off our arses into town.
Let’s be honest we all know that the Internet is massively to blame for this and we’re all probably part to blame by partaking in a little bit of retail therapy online. This all ties into what I’ve been banging on about when it comes to fast fashion, everything is disposable and a lot of this has contributed to the death of the High Street. All of that in addition to the rising costs of having retail space and non-domestic rates a.k.a. council tax for commercial property. Are we likely to have a High Street at all in 10 years time? I’m not really sure.
As much as I’m a lover of online shopping, I do miss the days where I could wander around town and grab something in the sales. I miss knowing that should all else fails online I could go into town, try something on and know it’s gonna look great straight away.
I’d like to know what you think, do you miss the dates when you could pop into the High Street and grab something you totally don’t need, do you wish that you didn’t need to wait to have the item that you’ve been saving up for? Or do you like me wish that you could have a cold hard cash? What happened cash? Will our kids ever have to know about cash, will we give them a pound to going to the shop to go pick up a packet of sweets (because we know that they’re not going to get more than one packet, if that).
Photos included in this post are all pictures that I took whilst I was in my local town of Letchworth. It makes me sad to know that all of the stores stand empty and there isn’t really anything we can do it about it, but that’s the internet for you!
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