A nation full of shopkeepers?

Napoleon and Adam Smith described the UK as “a nation full of shopkeepers”. Walking down my local high street today couldn’t confirm anything further from the truth. My local high street goes something like this:

  • Coffee shop
  • Pharmacy
  • Bank
  • Coffee shop 
  • Bank
  • Bank
  • Hairdresser
  • Restaurant
  • East European Supermarket
  • Hairdresser
  • Bank
  • Sandwich Shop
  • Barber
  • Coffee shop
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurant
  • Nail shop (as in the decorative one, not a DIY shop) 
  • Restaurant
  • Coffee Shop
  • Stationers
  • Bank
  • Sandwich Shop
  • Barber 
  • Bicycle Shop
  • Restaurant

There used to be an electronic retailer, which is now the east European Supermarket. Virtually all the other shops have either become hairdressers/ barbers, or a coffee shop.

The confusing factor here are the banks. I can understand the barbers, hairdressers, coffee shops and sandwich shops/ restaurants – in all these cases, you can’t buy the equivalent from eBay/ Amazon/ the rest of the Internet.

It’s the banks that confuse me – why do we need all the major high street banks here? Can/ do they all depend so much on customers physically entering their premises? The answer is either yes – because of the cash that the local shops need to keep paying into their business accounts each day, or no – and over the coming years we’re going to see many more high street banks closing down branches, similar to the Post Offices that we’ve seen in the past few years.

In the future I think we will see the coffee shops close down quite rapidly. The high street can’t sustain a Starbucks/ Costa/ Nero on every corner (and a couple in between). The same happened in the 1950s with Lyons’ tea rooms, who had 250 shops in London at the time.

What will replace them? One idea (expanding on Richard Watson’s prediction) is to have ‘brand showrooms’, where a manufacturer, say Sony, needs to show off it’s latest products. Because we’ll all be using our phone to buy the latest 5D, nanotechnology television, we won’t see the other latest gadgets that Sony will be inventing. So we’ll go into a brand showroom to see these new releases. New brands that come along (say, a 21st century Dyson) will have to create these showrooms as well, or else people won’t be able to discover them.

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