History of the high street

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Sir: Empty and soon-to-be empty units on the high street are potentially making way for yet another wave of convenience stores (‘The new space race’, 2 March).

Pundits talk about how the way we shop is constantly changing, but actually, might it not be more a case of ‘plus ça change’? Think about our high streets increasingly populated by c-stores and what do you see? Essentially a model of shopping that would not be alien to our parents and grandparents.

Modern c-stores have the potential to be champions of quality produce and expert knowledge once the domain of grocers, greengrocers, butchers, bakers and the early supermarket formats. Add to this the fact that people are shopping little and often, then what we’re actually seeing is a return to traditional values of sorts, both in terms of the high street offer and the behaviour of shoppers.

They say everything in business is cyclical. What comes after this wave of c-stores isn’t yet known and the trend is bound to have many years to play out. What’s certain though is that the mults have the opportunity to drive once familiar patterns of shopping back onto the high streets and who knows, perhaps play a part in saving the high streets themselves.

Nick Gray, MD, Live & Breathe

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