Saturday, 30 June 2012

Ghost town Bracknell?

I pop in to town from time to time, every week or two. I have noticed a few shops that have closed down, some for a long time now. But today it really hit me just how many are now closed, and have not been replaced with new businesses.

Walking in to Princess Square, 6 of the first 8 shops are empty. The high street is full of empty shops. I noticed today that the Thornton's chocolate stand has gone. Indeed, several of the shops I planned to visit have gone. I am pleased to see Bracknell Cycles have only moved, not closed down.

But the overall impression is that it is turning in to a ghost town. Scary.


  1. Sadly it seems the high street never took the threat of the internet serious enough...needs to reinvent its pricing some how (lord knows how they can compete with the warehousing and dispatch of the plays and amazons?..)

  2. It's hapenning everywhere.. rising rents and falling profits. Loads of empty shops around here and the only things that seem to be filling them is charity shops.

    We had one case locally where the a couple of shops closed and the landlord, fearing loss of earnings, increased the rent to the other shops to compensate - driving more away/out of business.. Oops.

  3. it's not a thread to high street shops. it's their end. It's simply a way of doing business whose time has passed. I think the concept of setting aside an area of every town where good were brought to each day and you had to go walk around it picking out what you wanted is a 20th century invention whose time has passed, it's just not entirely gone yet. But it will. It only seems bad because a town centre full of stores is what we are used to.

    In 100 years it will seem as strange to people as having horse drawn carriages filling the streets does to us now.

    I imagine what will replace it will be the ability to choose everything and anything you want, wherever you want, and have it brought to you the next day. Or dropped off in a convenient location. I expect things like "tesco direct" to eventually become the standard way of shopping. Pick what you want with all the information you could want available, and go get it the next day or later the same day from a central location that also has a large "cache" of common items such as food that you can pick up immediately. Or for a small premium cost have them bring it to you.

    Eventually town centers will be for recreation and restaurants, and things like that, not shops.

    I don't see this as a problem to be solved, I see it as something better has become available. That was how towns were in the 20th century. A 21st century town will be somewhat different. Not worse, just different.

    1. I think there's still room for shops, but massively reduced compared to the late 20th century; one thing that shops have offered me is a combination of expertise on hand, and the ability to try before I buy.

      This sort of setup can't be replicated without a physical store - there's no other way for me to (for example) bring in a camera, and try a lens before I buy it, nor is it simple for someone not physically present to understand why I dislike the results of a lens and recommend a suitable alternative.

      Now, many high street shops will die off - not every product needs that sort of interaction or expertise available, and many shops that should be offering such a service fail to do so (usually by employing inexperienced but cheap staff rather than more expensive experts) - and those that are left will need lower rents and rates to remain in business. However, that's the price of progress.