Friday, 23 December 2011

High Streets lose £200 Million this year

Chatham High Street
As people charge to do battle in our town centres this time of year and manners and courtesy are forgotten in a frenzy of last minute shopping, £200 Million business will be lost nationwide from town centres.

This isn't directly due to the deficit and crunch times and people not spending money - it's people like me who have taken their money to the Internet.

As I have mentioned in previous blog posts I cannot abide shopping - except for book shopping which up until I got a kindle for my birthday, was a major vice. I can't resist the pull of a book shop, the feel or smell of a new book that - any way moving away from that...
I don't like fighting through crowds and being jostled. I've made two trips to Chatham and that was more than enough for me.

Clearly others feel the same way and been estimated, according to the Metro, £200 Million has been sent on line with companies such as Amazon offering up to 70% off!
Not only is the Internet quick, quiet it's incredibly cheap and gets delivered to my door!
There's also the added bonus of not having to use public transport and car parking, in themselves painfully expensive and awkward. I hear nothing but bad things from drivers trying to navigate or park in Chatham. I must report that I used the Dynamic Waterfront Bus Facility yesterday for the first time and was fairly non-plussed but can see what people mean by walls ending short of the ceiling and it being exposed to the elements.

Internet companies can afford massive deals because they don't have the overheads that shop keepers have. A warehouse with a massive stock can be run with limited power, few staff and postage is paid by you. A shop holder has to buy stock, pay utilities, rents and taxes and live on the profits.

So what does this loss for the High Streets mean?

Well the bad thing is for small businesses who aren't part of a chain and cannot set up an Internet company. They tend to make money from overflow and people drifting in looking for bargains but if people aren't in the streets spending money they won't get any business.

Some of the models that I've painted

No where makes this more apparent than the Trafalgar Centre at the far end of the High Street. My favourite shop Maynes has closed down so now I have to go to Maidstone or Bluewater to get my Games Workshop fix. The rest of the centre is devoid of other shops, short of a newsagent, Tattoo parlour, Medway financing, a couple of random units and an Airfix model shop. The rest is a lifeless shell, even the toilets are out of order. It holds so much potential but there is nothing going on and no money coming in. The climate is not right for start up businesses and no one wants to risk their money, understandably.

The other people who make money from the Shopping season, food outlets, coffee shops, fast food eateries will also lose out on trade.
Is this a natural shift though? As I postulated before people don't have time, nor the desire to battle through towns to spend money when the with Amazon et. al. you can place your orders on your lunch hour at your desk rather than doing what I had to do on my Lunch hour- power walk from Lambeth to Westminster to get a Mug from the Parliamentary bookshop and then power back.

Needless to say though that Chatham High Street was rammed yesterday with a lot of Primark bags being carried and Debenams, Card Factory, MacDonald's, KFC, the Pentagon all very busy- even a queue to see Santa!

No comments:

Post a Comment