"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

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Saturday, 21 January 2012

What will happen to our High Streets and Shopping Malls?

High street stores have had a disastrous Christmas, and it seems they are now having a disastrous time in the January sales. The fact is many of us have little if any money to spend, are unemployed or are fearful of losing our jobs. Or if we are pensioners our pension simply does not go so far these days, with interest rates on savings at an all time low. Several household names have gone bust in the last few months and weeks. Camping equipment shops, clothes shops, shoe shops, card shops. No business seems immune from failure in these difficult times, except perhaps undertakers and accountants, death and taxes being as ever the only certainties in life! Even here, tax accountants could be in for a lean time if much needed simplifications to the tax system ever happen.
One household name that is disappearing is Kodak, the company who brought cameras to the masses with the old Box Brownie. What a fiddle it was to change the film in those old cameras. If you were not very careful, light got in and ruined the film before it had a chance to be processed. Then Kodak developed the Instamatic. The film was in a cartridge that we just dropped into the camera. That was so much easier.
But then along came digital cameras and Kodak just didn’t seem to know how to respond to such fundamental change in photography techniques.
But there is even more monumental change on the way. Internet sales over Christmas and New Year were up 10% over the same period last year. It is so easy to buy on line. And it is green. We save petrol as well as time. And now we buy our groceries, our clothes and our Christmas presents on- line. We buy car tax and pay all our bills on-line. We even send greetings cards by email. We buy our holidays and order our holiday money on the Internet. Where is this going to end? Even if we do go to the supermarket, we can now pay at self-service checkouts, being spoken to by a machine not a real person.
What this means, of course, is that fewer and fewer of us will use shops or banks or post offices any more. We can even print off our postage stamps at home now! Think what this will mean. There will simply be no need any more for many of the shops in the High Street. Or for the big out of town shopping malls. Things are changing in a huge way! Will the High Street shops and shopping malls become a thing of the past? What will happen to those areas? Will we spend all our spare time in our own bubbles, staring at our own screens and losing our human communication skills in the process?
Any ideas?

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