The end of the High St is nigh

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THE High Street is rubbish.

Not just Worksop high street, although that is indeed rubbish, but the British high street in general.

It’s moribund, but too many people just seem unwilling to accept this.

We had a bit of a dinner party at Grundi Towers last week, and I got into a heated debate with my obnoxious brother-in-law over a glass of 1953 vintage Chateau Mouton Rothschild.

The chinless wonder was lamenting the ‘sad demise’ of high street names such as HMV, Blockbuster, and Comet.

I asked him when was the last time he visited any of these stores.

He replied that it was probably ‘sometime in the late 1990s’.

Therein lies the problem. The business strategies of many of our high street chains is stuck in the 90s. They simply haven’t moved with the times.

If I want to rent a movie I’ll just stream it through my TV at the click of a button. I don’t want to trek to the video store to find my first choice isn’t in stock, have to settle for Alvin and the Chipmunks 2: The Squeakwel, and get ripped off for popcorn, ice cream, and fizzy pop.

It’s the same with music. Why go to a shop when you can just download it online at home in seconds.

Some nostalgic chin-strokers argue that you can’t beat the experience of browsing in a store, and that the web cannot offer this same experience.

But it’s possible to have the best of both worlds.

Sometimes I go into WH Smith in town, spend an hour or two browsing the books, picking the ones I like the sound of, then go home and buy them off Amazon for half the price.

There’s no money to be made from browsing. And ailing, out-of-date businesses cannot survive off nostalgia alone.

I’m old enough to remember when the heartbeat of most towns wasn’t the high street, but the market.

They fell by the wayside as chainstores offered greater convenience and cheaper prices, and now the high street is succumbing as people’s needs are being met more successfully by the internet, out of town shopping centres, and supermarkets.

I just hope the council accept that the high street era is nearing its end, and don’t start throwing money at the problem in the hope of some miracle cure. It’s time to move on.

What do you think to the state of Worksop town centre? Write to me by post or email.