In the first six months of 2016 more than 2,500 high street shops closed and some recent analysis suggests that nearly one in four non-food purchases in the UK are done online from a standing start of none 20 years ago.
A year ago this month, (25th July) Lloyds bank= pulled out of Molesey when its branch in Walton Road closed.
The decision was blamed on a lack of footfall with the ridiculously low figure of “28 personal and business customers” said to be visiting the branch each week, now that that the majority of transactions are now carried out over the internet and smartphones.
The closure must make us think about our own shopping habits in this digital age. And that’s because by 2030 e-commerce will account for around 40 per cent of all UK retail sales. according to a survey done by parcel delivery company, Parcelhero. The bank closed because people are tending to move to online banking.
We live in a busy society where gratification of all sorts is at the click of a mouse; shopping, banking, chatting, booking a holiday, ordering currency for it. We could orchestrate our lives from a sofa if we chose. But what an impact this has. Do we take our high street for granted? Maybe that little order for £3.50 on Amazon won’t make any difference to the home store. But on the other hand, if all of us think that way, that is a whole lot of little orders which are not going to go into the tills of our local shop.
The same is true of so many of the services on the high street. Without all of us making a choice to buy from the small independents our friendly shop keepers will be squeezed out. We hear of business rates and rents increasing. Brexit has had an effect on exchange rates so goods are costing more. However, we hear that Woolworths could be set for a shock return to UK high streets almost a decade after it collapsed. The retailer, famed for pick n’ mix and school clothes was a fixture of UK town centres for almost 100 years before calling in the administrators in 2008. Now, former director of the brand, Tony Page is reportedly planning to revive the Woolworths name. “I would want it to be much more a part of the community.
The stores that really used to do well were those that were at the heart of the community. It is much easier to walk down the road than order on Amazon,” he was quoted as saying.
It is now that we need to act and to keep shopping local.