The Death of the High street – when is cheap too cheap!

The proliferation of the internet has meant you can buy almost everything you need online. This is an ideal scenario for time poor and inevitably cash rich individuals however it comes at a cost. I must admit I do my weekly food shop online and have done ever since the birth of my first son. However, in recent months I have become disillusioned by the poor-quality fruit and vegetables and the larger than desired portions which means high wastage. Not to mention heavily packaged items such as meat and some fruits.

If you pick your own fruit, vegetables and meats you’re likely to pick the best of the crop and exactly the right amount. I’ve recently stopped ordering my fruit, vegetables and meat from my online retailer and have decided to source them from a local greengrocer and a farm shop respectively. Here lies the problem though there are hardly any butchers or greengrocers near where I live. We’ve created a country where it is not profitable to operate these businesses as too many of us opt for convenience.

The growth of courier services has meant you can buy many items online and in some cases, receive it the next day. I’ve even received deliveries from Amazon on a Sunday (originally the day of rest).

**Updated**: I actually received a delivery today on Easter Sunday.

The possibilities are endless in my opinion Tim Berners-Lee has created a beast. But with development comes many complex issues the Royal Mail for example (the original delivery service) has seen a drop-in profit, in November 2017 BBC News reported; “Royal Mail shares have fallen after the company reported lower profits and increased its target for cost savings.

Its shares slid 7.6% to their lowest level since March, and the company was the biggest faller on the FTSE 100, the UK's main share index.” Source. The drop-in profits was blamed on fewer people sending letters and why would you when emails are far more convenient and instantaneous. But the service the Royal Mail provides is personal you often see the same postman ours even says hello when I see him on his rounds. What can be more personal than someone you don’t know who knows where you live?

In terms of advertising the Royal Mail leafleting remains the only way to ensure 100% penetration to any given area when leafleting. This can be crucial if you’re looking to target apartment owners or homes in rural locations.

Other courier services have often left my packages in unsecured places just so they can get to the next drop even when I’m in. The pressure to fit in several deliveries in a narrow time-slot means they often don’t have time for unnecessary small talk or at times even ensuring you've physically received your item. We’ve all heard stories of packages being left in a ‘safe place’ by a courier such as a wheelie bin. I recently received an expensive order of wine which was left in the porch of my block of apartments.

The same can be said for internet shopping yes, it is cheaper and more convenient but it does come at a cost. I recently bought a brand-new swimming costume from eBay it was much cheaper than other ones I’d seen and was exactly what I was looking for so I happily ordered it – what could possibly go wrong? It wasn’t until it arrived that I realised it was shipped from China. Unfortunately, it was far too big so I’ve ended up sending it back at a cost of £7.72! This is bad economics on an item which cost just over £10. If only I’d visited a local store they would be grateful for my business and I could physically see/try on the item with returning it if needed much more straightforward.

High street stores suffer from many setbacks expensive rents, business rates, poor parking for customers, out of town one stop shops to name a few. However, we should support local businesses. After all, if you don’t use it you’ll lose it. I am passionate about supporting local businesses and have a large toolkit of ideas to create the desired results for local ventures. If you’d like to have an informal chat, please feel free to get in touch or 01625 533102