As someone who considers himself a long term citizen of the Internet nation I find the idea that the internet is killing the high street to be as naive and stereotyped as the suggestion that Scotsmen are tight with money.
Indeed it appears the concept that the High Street is under threat from the Internet should go up there with home taping killing the music industry or home video rental killing the cinema ticket sales.
Meanwhile bad business models, poor assumptions about commerce and a belief that an established business process is entitled to legal or moral protection from competition appears endemic in all levels of society.
Give a random collection of consultants a large pot of money through which to find an explanation and you will inevitably receive several recommendations all of which conflict in their advice.
The big names once out of town now appear to be returning to our streets. Whilst the mega malls are busy as ever especially during this season.
It’s not the immediacy and recommendations that drive people to shop online, it is accessibility. Look at the ‘memories of Horsham’ Facebook page to see how this town has evolved and reacted to change. Nothing in the Carfax today reflects what existed nearly three decades or a hundred years ago.
Yet as one retail unit closes down another takes a chance and we see a change in purpose throughout the town. Developers seem keen to add more residential units whilst various businesses move away from town. Meanwhile possible new developments in the North of Horsham will make Crawley Road almost the geographically centre of town than the current location. Especially If they go ahead and ignore opinion with the new business park development.
For as much as I can shop online or comparison shop there are too many purchases, from boardgames to shoes or coffee, which benefit from physical presence. The ‘canny’ business owner will integrate the free communications platform of the Internet to pull people into their shops via the internet into the high street.
It would be a smart council indeed who grasped that the Internet now arrives on every smartphone in a resident’s hand today.
Possibly in place of burying their heads in the hopes of popcorn inflated revenues our councillors should put those businesses into our communities which work with the change in society’s habits rather than trying to ignore them.