Having just watched another debate on question time, I am frustrated again at the rhetoric of the politicians on our highstreet, which is as follows:

  • That it’s sad that our high-street shops are closing
  • That high street shopping can’t compete with online shopping, because the latter is a cheaper business to run
  • That there’s nothing that can be done about this

There seems to be very little talk about any of the reasons why I shop online rather than going to the high street, which are as follows:

  • That shopping online is cheaper than the highstreet
  • That I (and also Joey) work between 9-5.30 on weekdays, and are often busy at weekends – while the shops are only open 9-5
  • That more than 50% of the shops on the highstreet are clothing shops, and most of the rest are banks, travel centres, jewellery shops, pubs, newsagents and estate agents. (1)
  • That public transport links into the town centre are expensive, unreliable and slow.

(1) There are four excellent shops we do go into town to visit on a semi-regular basis – because they offer a better selection, value, or experience than online shopping.

  • Tindalls. There’s only really one art shop of worth in Cambridge, on the edge of the town centre. A little out of town there’s also a Hobbycraft, which has a much greater selection of stuff (but their prices are quite high, easier to get to and cheaper to buy online.)
  • Mackays. Because we make a lot of stuff, we do visit our local hardware store fairly regularly. It has an incredible selection of products, but it’s on the outskirts of the town centre.
  • Inner Sanctum Collectabless. There is one excellent games shop in town that I go to because their advice and range is amazing, sadly, it is out of the town centre. There used to be two games shops in the town centre 10 years ago, but they both closed.
  • John Lewis. There isn’t a dedicated fabric shop in Cambridge worth visiting, our best bet is to go to John Lewis in the city centre. I don’t like buying fabric online because you want to feel the fabric before buying it.
  • To be honest, that’s about it – none of these shops we visit in town are remotely close to the others, and many of the stranger things I might want to buy simply aren’t available.

    If you want me to shop in the highstreet, you need to do three things, ideally altogether.

    1. Improve public transport so that it’s easy, reliable and cheap to get a bus into town
    2. Increase the diversity in the shops available, so that there is a greater range of products on offer.
    3. Have shops open in evenings.

    This would attract me a lot more than spending £100,000 renovating 15 random town centres around the country…