Not too long ago I wrote a post called 'Amazon Can't Do That' which was quite prescriptive of how I thought Amazon had won the retail war. I wrote that the only way left to compete on the High Street was to operate on a different level in stores and to truly love and entertain customers with our niche.
A few months on and the Ghost of Christmas Past has really dug in and today the BBC reported that there will be another cull and many more stores going to the wall. To be fair Toys R Us and Maplin make up half of those businesses so this significantly inflates the story - however the statistics still describe a dark future for the High Street.
I've changed my tune (or at least curbed it) as I know of at least one local business that has decided to close and I know with a bit more luck they would have survived as their proposition was special, niche and customer service excellent. There was just too many outside influences. Hopefully these shops will find a good home online and may thrive once more.
There was some good news with some High Streets literally thinking 'outside the box' using the spaces for Escape Rooms and Adventure Games. I like this idea and particularly in a town like Huddersfield I think about welcoming support for creative space for our excellent artists, designers and even sporting heroes.
From a personal perspective, less stores strengthen my position as a consultant and supplier. As long as I can attend events that display the products I want to recommend then I can source products at great prices via the internet. Then - as long as my service is remarkable I think I have a decent offering for my customer.
Therefore I'm choosing to look through the window of a previous life with interest, but without too much regret that I'm not in the thick of it. Somebody soon, be it the landlords, the town planners, the councils or the big retail players have to become visionaries and build a new proposition from the ground up, or the demolition job may continue. Who will be brave enough to set the ball rolling on a new idea for the future?
How long until the big question - do we need shops AT ALL? If they weren't there would we REALLY miss them? AND if they aren't there what will we replace them with (that isn't a coffee shop, bar or restaurant)?
I wonder if Amazon are eyeing all these empty units as distribution centres?