by Michael Smith (Veshengro)
High Street store chain after High Street store chain (not even talking about the independent shops) are collapsing in the UK.
First we lost Woolworth, followed by a fair number of others and now, the latest casualty, is Jessops, the specialist camera stores. And this has now been followed, only a few days after Jessops biting the dust, with HMV, the record store chain, going into receivership.
Much of the demise of the High Street stores is due to the fact that the British people shop, nowadays, more on the Internet than in any other way.
In some ways one cannot blame the people as on the Internet they can obtain things with ease from a great variety of vendors without (1) having to go out and (2) without having to hunt for it from store to store.
While, in the old days when you went to your General Store looking for something and they did not have it the proprietor would reply with “don't worry, I can get it for you” today the answer generally is “we don't stock that” and that's it.
In those days customer service was high on the agenda for the store wanted to keep the customer happy so that they would come back time and again but today it no longer seems to be the case.
Some years ago I went to a store dealing in grinding supplies and asked for a razor strop. The young shop assistant did not have a clue and when he finally grasped what I wanted simply said “we don't have that”.
When I then asked for emery grinding paste he also had no idea, told me he needed to get his manager, who then proceeded to tell me that that was not what I wanted needed and that I really wanted and needed a diamond hone. Bad move... I knew what I needed and wanted, as a professional, and definitely did not need someone trying to sell me something I knew I did not need nor wanted.
Thus there are two ways that need to be employed to resurrect the High Street. The first is for stores to, once again, care for and about their customers and the second for people then to actually return to those stores and be their patrons.
It takes two to tango, as they say, and prices also need to reflect this in that it is not possible for a shop to charge double of what I can buy something for on the Internet, including shipping.
Only by traders being flexible and shoppers valuing their local traders and craftsmen and -women, etc. will we ever get proper life back into the British High Street, and not just wine bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and such like.