Recession and the British high street

January 16th, 2009

In the last decade high streets 1 in the UK have become increasingly homogenised.

In my old job I would end up travelling visiting most major towns and cities in the UK and it was depressing that they all looked the same – same brands, same items, same old same old.

This, of course, frustrates anyone in the coffee business when you see chains snap up great locations and fill them out with standardised and boring branded shops.  Starbucks have some amazing, interesting real estate in London but the moment you set foot inside all character is banished.

I can’t quite agree with all the doom mongering about the economy but it is clearly hurting the fat, bloated chains that had it too easy and got lazy/lost direction.  There is now some great real estate coming up in London and I hope that we see a small surge in independent businesses – not just in coffee but in all aspects of retail.  In the next few months in London there will be a handful of interesting places opening, which is wonderful, and I hope that trend continues.  Small business loans are still available from banks, and an intelligently planned new business run by someone with passion is probably a pretty safe bet for a bank these days!

Increasing demand in locality (not just in food), coupled with a potentially more discerning customer (I know I am thinking a little bit more carefully before spending my money) could be a great environment for new businesses.

This really is just me typing out my thoughts from tonight – I’d love to hear what people think?

  1. For those who don’t know what a high street is – in the UK the main shopping street in every town is refered to as a high street, and is often called High Street.  ↩︎

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