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The Death of the High Street

Today we closed the shop, permanently. We shut the doors early at 16:30 so we could parcel up the remaining stock for shipment to surviving stores. I’m now out of work again, with the more long term staff struggling to get placements within the company.

One thing we kept being asked over the past few days, as the customers finally realised upon seeing the dearth of stock and the huge posters stating such that we were actually closing down, was “Where are you moving to?” We had to then sadly inform them that we weren’t moving. We were just closing down. Permanently.

Most of them seemed surprised. “So… You won’t have any other shops in town?”. No. We won’t. Some seemed offended. Like we were part of some conspiracy to deprive them of their right to buy product, but the majority seemed sad. Some shook our hands before they left, or regaled us about just how long they had been a customer, their memories of such and that it was ” the end of an era”. Mostly they were just surprised. Like they hadn’t expected it. The end of a business. It just doesn’t happen…

All those businesses that have closed over the past few years, here in Norwich, in Lowestoft, in Yarmouth… Do the general public believe these businesses just ‘moved away’? They shut. They closed. Forever. They didn’t go to live on the same farm that their parents told them their childhood dog went to. These business failed. Unless they were lucky to get transferred to surviving concerns, these people all lost their jobs. There are towns where the whole high street has largely failed. Established businesses with long traditions closed up forever. In their place, if the units haven’t remained empty as many have done; cash for gold, pawn shops and temporary discount outlets have taken their place. Why are people still surprised by the closure of established high street shops? This recession, some day it may even be a depression, has been going on for over a decade and seen the end of many long established business, yet the public seem to be oblivious. As they take their custom online, or to out of town discount stores, or foreign owned low price supermarkets, or pound shops. They complain about high street prices bragging about how they can get similar products online or at a place out of town where the rents are cheaper and the retailers can buy stock in massive amounts for cheap. Then they feign sadness when the high street dies. When they give all their money to retailers in foreign countries or tax heavens and then complain about the lack of money in the UK.

Prior to working in retail I thought the general public are idiots. Working in retail has cemented that opinion.

The high Street is expensive because it has to be, because you don’t shop there anymore and they have overheads that doing shrink accordingly. Intact they often increase. If you don’t shop there then little of your money is going back into the local economy. It’s going to Amazon, or Lidl. It’s well establish that Amazon don’t pay their fair share of tax in the UK, most of the products are made abroad. Very little of that money stays here. Lidl are a German company. They employ your kids at minimum wage and most of their suppliers are abroad. Very little of the money you spend there goes back into your community.

Spending money in the high street is expensive. Buying local produce is expensive. If you want clothes and other products that are “made in UK” then you need to pay for it. That money is the wages of your children.

You get out of something what you put into it, and if you don’t want to put anything into your country then don’t expect to get much out of it.

If you do, then go and buy something locally from time to time. Yes it’s more expensive but it’s more likely that money will make it’s way back to you, or more importantly, your children.

 

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