The rise of online shopping means that more of us than ever are heading on to the internet to buy everything that we need, from weekly groceries to clothes, gifts, services and even big-ticket items such as cars. We increasingly buy our entertainment online too, such as films, music and more.
However, this online migration has a significant effect on our once proud high streets. The UK used to boast many thriving and attractive high streets, with beautiful and independent boutiques mingling with big brands and traditional favourites, grocery and food stores and vital services. The high streets and town centres were thronged with visitors and were a place to socialise and relax as well as to shop, with cafes, restaurants and other services on hand.
Changing Town Centres
Declining visitor rates to community shopping centres have changed the make-up of these locations, with increasing numbers of empty retail units, charity shops, pound shops, payday-loan providers and pawn shops popping up. However, things are starting to change, and local communities can play a vital role in revitalising their high streets and ensuring that they thrive well into the future.
The Benefits of Physical Shopping
Although the internet can make shopping easy, it will never replace the interaction that occurs when you shop face to face. Heading to town means that you see your neighbours and other friendly faces and can stop for a chat. For many isolated and older people in particular, these kinds of interactions are essential for their wellbeing. Many towns and villages also have their own markets and specialist food shops too, which provide a quality of food not easily found in large supermarkets. Prices can even be more attractive, with the money going back into local communities rather than being sent to corporate centres.
You will also find small independent cafes alongside large and popular restaurants and food emporiums. Pop into your local hairdresser or spa for a quick pick-me-up and enjoy a cup of tea and a cake on the terrace. Many larger town centres also boast a good pub or two for a great lunch, and older towns in particular often have lovely features such as fountains, attractive public buildings, libraries, decorations and more. Keep your ear out for live music, and watch out for food festivals, continental market stalls and other attractions.
Another great benefit of heading to your local shopping centre is that you find out about all the events and activities that are put on for the community, especially around celebration days. Nothing beats seeing your local Christmas lights being switched on, or watching the local schools compete in a summer carnival parade. The vast majority of these centres are also within easy walking distance or highly accessible via public transport, so you don’t even need to take your car.
Our traditional facilities will only continue to thrive in the future and give local communities a vital meeting point and place to buy their products and services if we support them So make sure you are part of your local community and support its heart — the shopping centre.