Luckily, I had the perfect excuse, as I was going round delivering invitations to our launch at Princes House Cornwall in Truro on 7th February. So, armed with a pile of invitations and reasonably comfy boots I headed into one of the few snowless towns in the UK!
Timed with yesterdays’s announcement ,on the news, that Christmas hadn’t heralded the shopping revival, as first predicted, this proved an enlightening experience!
Let me first take you back a bit! Do you remember what Christmas Shopping used to be like before the advent of the internet! Perhaps you remember it as I do, with the bustling excitement of anticipation, the cheerful lights, the buzz of frantic shoppers and the joy of playing and prodding and poking! Or, are you the person who remembers the cold, or freezing, conditions, shops packed full of coughing and sniffling and argumentative people, the battering of other combative shoppers armed with their loads and then the struggle of getting on the bus or carrying it all back to the car?
Of course, depending on which of these shoppers you are will have determined whether you spent your time on-line or out in the colourful, real, touchy feely world of shopping! I think you know which kind I am!
It is true to say that on-line shopping has taken on such a mantle that Parcelforce has increased its workload immensely, and, it would appear that, on the whole, people get what they expected and return no more of their internet purchases than their “real world” equivalents! By 2016, it is estimated that at least 25 percent of all shopping will be on-line, but talking to retailers and friends, I am surprised we haven’t already hit that figure!
So back to the lovely high street retailers! I am sure Truro reflects many towns across the country. I visited shops that are new, shops that have been around for 25 years and shops that have been family run for over a century and all of them were reflecting how quiet things are for them. I talked to people whose hours have been cut, who don’t know whether it is worth them reinvesting, who don’t know how to read shopping moods any more and who have changed their buying patterns in anticipation that they will have that vital something to offer! I even walked right past the recently closed Jessops whose curtains have already fallen which was the reality check and will be for all those retailers walking past the boarded up facade.
It is true to say, that some people seek out ideas on-line then head to the shops to feel and test the items, whilst others feel and test the items then head home looking for an internet bargain, at the expense of the retailer who has to account for stock.
The world is a changing place and judging by the feedback on the High Street, they are all feeling deflated, nervous and reticent to invest, which, of course, will not boost the economy!
What will life be like if we lose our towns to boarded up frontages, broken glass windows and tatty facades. Where will we meet and mooch? Shopping is a whole social experience of touching and feeling and conversation and aspiration and engagement and I, for one, hope that the “Real World” wins and that Truro and all the beautiful towns, villages and cities survive to enjoy a more vibrant future.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin