/ Shopping

Is your high street overrun with coffee shops and nail bars?

Starbucks high street

The rapidly changing face of the high street advanced apace with the news that the owners of Möben and Dolphin, Habitat and clothing shop Jane Norman went into administration this week.

While buy out deals may be on the cards for some of these companies, there’s no doubt that Britain’s high street doesn’t look the way it did even ten years ago. So what are we getting in their place?

Well in some instances, simply empty shops – a report earlier in the year found that a record 14.5% of shops in town centres were vacant at the end of 2010. To this threat, commenter Fat Sam argued that:

‘It’s time many town centres re-invented themselves and dragged themselves into the 21st century. Instead of councils and retailers moaning about online and out of town competition, they need to fight back!’

Anyone for coffee or a manicure?

However, other reports show that the businesses that are surviving aren’t your traditional high street favourites. A third of independent high street stores are now cafes, pubs, restaurants and takeaways, according to one study.

Hairdressers and nail bars are also on the up, with fewer and fewer high streets without at least one. Where I live, you can get your nails done in four different places on one street.

In contrast, newsagents and butchers have declined the most – dropping out of the top 20 altogether. However, in a reply to a previous Conversation, Julian argued that “death of the high street” claims are grossly exaggerated:

‘Everyone seems to like to moan about supermarkets and chainstores killing off town centres. The fact is they are offering what people want.’

So, what do you think about your high street – are you faced with lots of establishments doing business with nail polish, like me? How much do you think your high street has changed and do you think it matters?


We need a scrappage scheme for shops to meet the current oversupply of outdated buildings

Sophie Gilbert says:
4 July 2011

When I moved to Edinburgh 25 years ago there wasn’t a decent coffee shop in sight, apart from Next’s on Princes Street (it has since disappeared). The other choices were pubs, where staff looked at you as if you came from another planet if you ordered a non-alcoholic drink and where only instant coffee or rubbish percolated coffee were on offer; or hotels, incredibly old-fashioned and drab in their appearance, which, never mind the coffee they served, would drive you back to the pub for an alcoholic drink!

In the past 10 years or so coffee shops have appeared one by one, on Princes Street and surrounds, starting with Starbucks, who led the way (I never go there and don’t like their coffee, but credit where credit’s due), and then in local areas, and now we have coffee shops coming out of our ears. Great! The choice is fantastic and big, one size fits all chains are made to compete against creative independents.

I think the reason why coffee shops are doing so well is because a nice cup of coffee with a good piece of pastry in comfortable, appealing surroundings is an affordable treat for most of us. Soothing for body and soul in these uncertain times.

When ever I see a “starbucks” my first immediate thought is – Feed the world!
We spent the 80s trying to help Africa trade themselves out of poverty and starvation, in the 2000s starbucks paid a pittance for and blocked Ethiopian coffee growers from licensing their coffee.
All this whilst stabuck’s top brass sat on the licensing council!

I will never use a starbucks out of principle.

My Shopping Mall is over run with shoe shops – there are eight of them! But not one stocks male leather shoes or slippers – Enormous range of female shoes and unisex trainers – not a pair of men’s business shoes – plenty of women’s.