Shop locally 

 

Shop locally – yes, we all want to but while Nailsea has an abundance of cafes, charity shops, hairdressers and pubs what is it missing?

I have been fiercely loyal to shopping locally but when Gary Henri closed many moons ago there was nowhere left in the village to buy designer ladies clothes or shoes and I was forced online.

Now my clothes and much of my Christmas shopping is done on the websites of John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and Next.

If you wanted to buy a present where in Nailsea would you go?

While the Blue Room has some nice bits especially silver jewellery and original art these are not really what you would buy for a wedding present or an 18th birthday.

Waitrose and Tesco sell some electrics as do Sam Bird although I have to admit the last two wedding invites we had strict instructions from the bride and groom saying ‘no’ to another toaster/tv and asking for cash towards their honeymoon.

And even local travel companies didn’t benefit from this as they used specialist online holiday firms.

I miss the old Heritage gift shop in the High Street.

The other dilemma is where in Nailsea could I buy an outfit to wear to church?

It is enough to make you head up the road to the shopping malls at Cribbs Causeway or Cabot’s Circus.

Oh there are plenty of places to buy a recycled Ascot outfit as we are full of charity shops which have all but replaced jumble sales - in fact I can’t remember the last time I saw a rummage poster?

The vintage clothes at Beautiful are lovely but made for stick insects, New Look is good for younger models and Store 21 is cheap and cheerful.

My husband hasn’t bough a shirt in Nailsea since Angelo closed his small Courtyard boutique in way back when and although we buy some books at WH Smith its mostly Waterstones or online with Amazon.

What we need is a Next or Gap in Nailsea plus a computer shop in the town centre.

In the early 1990s I did a spot of retail therapy in New York and was disconcerted when the shop assistants struck up friendly conversation with me and my family within moments of walking into a store.

Our US friend explained that Big Apple retail staff had all undergone intensive ‘retraining’ after being voted ‘rudest in the world’.

Politeness seems to have travelled across the pond.

I can talk to the checkout people in Tesco and Waitrose about my weekend what I am cooking and where my next holiday is planned so big improvements here.

Just before Christmas and under protest I shopped in Lidl at Clevedon for the first time and the staff there were lovely too.

Waitrose and anyone working for the John Lewis Partnership know the value of being friendly and Tesco at Nailsea have cottoned on to the fact a few kind words cost nothing.

So is it all down to cost?

Sadly yes it all boils down to the price of fruit and veg for me.

Recently I bought a cucumber which cost £1.39 at Waitrose at Nailsea while it was 29p at Lidl Clevedon, perfume cost me nearly £50 at Superdrug at Nailsea while a comparable scent at Lidl Clevedon, cost £3.50 (I kid you not).

Where do allegiances lie well I am sorry but sadly a few soft words aren’t doing to butter me up to paying through the nose.

Want to know what’s new since Mary Portas hit the headline with her High Street report.

Well we are told the number of shops on the High Street declined dramatically in the first nine months of this 2014.

Town centres saw 964 net closures between January and September, two-and-a-half times the net reduction for the whole of 2013, according to the study by PwC and the Local Data Company.

The collapse of businesses such as Phones 4U and lingerie chain La Senza accelerated the decline, PwC said.

Clothing shops were among the hardest hit while betting shops thrived.

In total 365 traditional goods retailers, such as shoe and clothes shops, closed down in the first half of the year.

The number of travel agents and pawnbrokers also fell.

This was exacerbated by a dramatic reduction in the number of Albermarle & Bond shops after the pawnbroker fell into administration and had to be rescued by an investment group.

Conversely, the study which looked at 500 town centres, showed coffee shops, banks, pound shops, charity shops, convenience stores and American restaurants were among those opening the most outlets.

Mark Hudson, retail leader at PwC, said the survey reflected the "digital revolution" with retailers prioritising online sales over physical shops.

"We're heading for a High Street based around immediate consumption of food, goods and services or distress or convenience purchases," he added.

"I'm not sure that's what customers really want - but consumer and business economics are pointing in that direction at the moment."

Matthew Hopkinson, director of the Local Data Company, said: "Significant changes are continuing to take place across Britain's town centres.

"Multiple retailers are continuing to close stores on High Streets in favour of retail parks and shopping centres.

"The bad news is that the significant decline in chain retailer numbers in town centres seen in 2012, which then slowed in 2013, has picked up again."

Meantime Mrs Portas blames the government for being slow to provide funding and guidance for suffering UK high streets.

Two years after the coalition responded to Portas's 2011 review of the high street in which she made a string of recommendations, she writes: "Progress from central government has been far slower than I'd hoped."

She also blamed "bumpy starts" at the 27 Portas Pilot towns on "vague supporting processes" and "insufficient guidance from government".

The pilot towns have faced criticism over their use of £1.9m in government funding, while some towns have been very slow to spend money at all.

Carol Deacon

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