What’s piqued my interest this week?
I was having an interesting chat this week about the high street with a colleague. We were trying to work out why we would actually go into the town centre. There’s a continuous roll-call in the press of ailing high street chains, the most recent HMV, while Debenhams looks wobbly (1, 2). As an aside I’m intrigued to see where Mike Ashley is dragging all these fallen chains. Some collective Brit-megastore in China?
We came up with the following four things we would actually bother going into town for:
- an activity – e.g. a bar, an escape room, a haircut, etc
- inspiration for an item – e.g. Waterstones for a book, John Lewis for a gift, etc
- items needed NOW – e.g. running around like a blue-arsed fly for a dress shirt
- items not available online – e.g. local produce from a market, packaging-free items like the avocado-smashing millennial wanker I am
I guess that’s what brand and PR people chat about when stating people want experiences. Most home or clothing goods now gets ordered online as it’s quicker, usually cheaper and I don’t have to deal with the rigmarole of parking/ avoiding mouth-breathers. The bars in our town seem to be doing alright, and there’s restaurants and stores offering activities like VR gaming and a chance to sit-in and touch that chintzy MG Rover (Roewe) springing up left, right and centre. So are town centres becoming more experiential?
Well let’s not forget that the concept of a High Street or shopping centre is pretty modern in civilisation terms. Prior to the 17th century you had taverns, inns and pubs, and a town market a few times a week, but otherwise you had to go to a specific place to seek out a vendor for your chosen items. Leather workers near tanneries etc. The 17th and 18th centuries saw the true growth of the High Street as a destination to be seen to be shopping (3). The money and riches of the empire fuelled the golden age in the 19th century (4). The start of the downturn came with out-of-town shopping. Prices have been driven down, and quality is now following. Online shopping has undoubtedly taken the wind from the High Street’s sails, but I think it’s overblown. Mail order was around before online shopping. Online is more convenient and offers greater choice than any bricks-and-mortar retailer could, but catalogues have long-offered variety when the High Street couldn’t.
I look forward to a smaller city centre full of things to do, and smaller shops selling local produce not cheap garms for tuppence from Bangladesh. I spoke to MrsShrink about this, and she massively disagrees. She loves shopping, or more specifically she loves rifling through sale-racks looking for discounted items trying to find things her life is incomplete without. So maybe there’s life in the old dog yet.
Have a great week,
- The Brexit car-crash continues in parliament (5)
- While banks are in the process of moving $1 trillion offshore (6)
- And the British car industry is also suffering (mainly due to the anti-diesel fashion IMO) (7)
- Not helped by car sales falling (8)
- The removal of EU subsidies will also cause agricultural land prices to fall (9)
- The new NHS plan and what it means for you (10)
- As NHS chiefs tell May to stop privatising the NHS (11)
- Average UK household debt hits a new peak (12)
- Cheap rail-fares for the rich? (13)
- How do platforms rate at picking funds? (14)
- The Accumulator updates the Slow and Steady Portfolio for Q4 (15)
- MrYFG looks at the financial implications of divorce (16)
- TEA does some more cheerleading (17)
- MsZiYou updates her net worth for December (18)
- The Finance Zombie talks about projecting future finances (19)
- UKVI looks at their Dividend Portfolio performance for 2018 (20)
- The Ermine also looks at his portfolio results. Hint – stiff drinks required (21)
- HOSimpson at 3652days discusses why they remortgaged to a tracker (22)
- LMF on her new site updates with Decembers accounts (23)
- GFF looks at the financial cost of a ski holiday (24)
- EarlyRetirementinUK provides their numbers (25)
- The Canny Contractor reports their Q4 passive income (26)
- Ken at The Humble Penny reflects on his great experiences from 2018 (27)
- The Savings Ninja reports on their 2018 progress (28)
- Fork My Crumble also updates with their December progress (29)
- The Obvious Investor identifies and utilises a Wolfe Wave (30)
- And finally indeedably continues to be prolific, with this on the ways in which we can mask our financial failures and sell them as successes (31)
- And this on their property portfolio (32) – and in that vein, my property lessons III post is coming this week
The kitchen garden:
What I’m reading (now affiliate links):
Tombland – C.J. Sansom – I love the Shardlake series, detective novels set in the Tudor period with a crippled lead character. Beautifully written.
Starting with Chickens – Kate Thear – A hint to a goal for 2019
Enchiridion by Epictetus – Bedside reading for a bad day