Yesterday’s demise of the UK’s Blockbuster video store, coming so soon after the reins of HMV were handed to ‘the administrator’ and Jessop’s cameras followed Comet’s white goods and countless card shops into the wilderness, has kept headline and leader writers busy and caused ‘a nation of shopkeepers’ to pause for thought.
It was, said one columnist (overstating for effect), as if the High Street had finally run out of people who were not on the Internet. We might even see the end of that most unlikely quack health treatment – retail therapy. The outpouring of late love for lost brands stands in contrast to the reluctance of shoppers to visit the places before they died – and a good part of that must reflect the lack of money to splurge on optional extras when they can be found more conveniently and cheaper elsewhere. Economists may describe this as ‘market pruning’ but hopes for a resurgence of growth in the Spring seem unlikely.
No amount of yearning for the real or imagined lost paradise of the High Street will slow the world sufficiently for those who want to get off but there is value to be found in this massive penny-dropping moment – the realisation that the digital economy is real. Personal and collective moments of revelation such as this tell us how much we have been kidding ourselves as we cling to the ‘established order’.
In the UK the retail sector employs 4 million people and whilst feeling for those whose lives careers and incomes have been disrupted, our editorial ‘Pennies, Drops and Impacts‘ looks at the urgent need to get all our heads around the new realities and deliver a digitally inclusive and more-equitable society.