TO suggest that the demise of the ‘High Street’ is solely due to the growth of online shopping is to suggest an easy option to a far more complex situation.

High Streets have always had a most interesting dynamic. There has always been a wrong and right side and a good end and a bad end. Any prospective retailer who ignored this was destined for disappointment.

These factors were governed by the characteristics of the individual town. Geographic and social factors played a big role in deciding the various ‘footfall’ patterns. At the time of their height most housewives did not work and probably shopped daily, walking to the high street with their shopping basket. While still a chore it was, to a great extent, a social activity. Often, this involved a personal and ongoing interchange between retailer and customer.

During the 30s my mother would phone in her order and it would be delivered by a lad on a trade bike. Most of the grocery chains, Maypole, Home and Colonial, Walkers Stores etc had ‘travellers’ who went round to the homes of their regular customers every week and collected the orders. Usually for next day delivery. Home ordering is nothing new.

The milkman and the baker also came round daily.

Much has changed. Most housewives work. Shopping has become a weekly event and less people walk. So instead of looking for footfall we must seek the vehicle access. The big chains have recognised this and are booming. The high street has closed it off and, in many cases, failed to find other reasons to attract the customers. The retailers must go where the customers are, either in their homes or in their cars.

Sadly, the High Street no longer meets this criteria.


Branksome Wood Road, Bournemouth