WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF SHOPPING?
Shops close, jobs are lost and we all shop online. What is the impact and can we still have the shopping experience?
These are uncertain times for many, with job losses reported every day and not a whole lot of good news to report.
If you look at any town or city in the UK, there will be the same story of decline, with a big fat 2020 cherry on top. What is the future of shopping?
Councils have spent years creating focussed shopping nodes. By constructing large shopping malls, we have put it all under one roof for one hit on a Saturday afternoon that isn’t affected by the rain. What happens to all those shops and all those forgotten streets? We have allowed “Radiator Springs” to appear on our doorsteps through the path of least resistance.
Cheaper land (and rates) out of town have allowed the abominations that are retail parks. There, we die a little inside, surrounded by a sea of cars. Firstly, we love shopping and yet we don’t think of our mental wellbeing, neither do we consider what the experience is doing to us.
We are insistent in creating an airport experience in every town centre.
No daylight; no air; don’t sit down; keep walking; next shop; stand in that queue; wait at the fitting room; no idea where the exit is; buy a coffee; keep walking; keep shopping; never stop.
Each economic uncertainty allows the big corporations to sharpen their knives and cut away at the fat. You are that fat. The employee gets cut out, yet we continue to shop there. Really? Do we really have that little solidarity with each other?
Profit before people
Their profit margin is more important than life, and yet we continue to give them our money.
Look at your town centre. How many roller shutters are down for good, how many hoardings? How many family businesses needed us more than corporations? None of us helped. I didn’t. You didn’t. We didn’t.
The good news is that the tide is turning. Many small businesses, created in 2020, were helped by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). These businesses, run by your friends or family, offer hope for our town centres.
Save our town centres
There will be a regeneration of town centres and it will be through SME’s and start-ups being provided with a street presence to establish themselves and their name. A local identity allowing connectivity and shared growth will be the aim as a more community-based approach develops. Pedestrianised streets would allow for external overspill, meeting points, places to rest or just enjoy the vibe.
Local councils would have an important part to play in this. Drastically reduced business rates, alongside negotiated entry rentals, would breathe life back into these areas. Greed has to give way to something more.
The public realm will be re-imagined to bring people back to these outdoor spaces and create a vibrant community. For the people and run by the people. There has to be a cultural shift in how we operate, and it needs to be pushed through by the local and national government.
Shop small, shop local
A zero waste culture cannot exist in our current form. The mass consumption era needs to die and big business knows it. Why do you think they are all scrambling around trying to sound ‘ethical’ and ‘sustainable’?
The reflex will be to move to a smaller model which is more considerate of its surroundings and produces less, needs less and wastes less.
Firstly, fifty small shopping boutiques are better than one large entity, and fifty small business families looking after fifty sets of workers would care more about their future.
It is better that these businesses care and that we know we matter, so therefore we care.