I only go to the Town Centre once a fortnight or so and every time I go there, at least one more Shop has closed.

It use to be just the smaller private Shops where they’d either been squeezed out by the larger Chain’s prices or simply not got their Business Plans right. Now it seems to have spread to the larger Retailers; Peacocks being just one of them.

A sad loss – Peacocks dating back to 1884 finally succombs to Banking pressures

I guess there are two main reasons for this; 1. Out of Town Business Parks with their easily accessible Car Parks, larger floor space making more variety and 2. The Internet, where prices can be even lower and you don’t have to face parking, noise and general chaos!

It seems the vast majority of those seen strolling around town are either those who have travelled in by Bus or youngsters because that’s where the cheaper Drinking Establishments are.
Of course, what doesn’t help is if you live in a Town where there isn’t something of some Touristy interest.

Once the Nation of Shopkeepers, we are now the Nation of Consumers. I don’t think that’s wrong, far from it, you want to get the best deal after all, but it does make you wonder what our Towns are going to be like in another 20 – 30 years.
The age of the Village has already gone by in most areas; the Butchers, The Bakers, the Post Offices all closing in places where other shops selling the same things are within driving distance.

Can a Town Centre survive on just Banks, Building Societies, a few Pubs and a General Post Office for long. Even Banking is now very much Internet based, it’s a rare event I go into mine. Everything is paid to me by Direct Debit of Electronic Fund Transfer. All I need is a hole in the Wall and I haven’t used a Cheque Book for 8 or 9 years now.

The Human side of it

But the people I feel most sorry for are the Employee’s of these Shops, the last of the ‘Counter types’ if you like to call them that; a Shop where you take your Goods to the Counter and not just a Check Out.

This week I noticed the ‘Game’ shop had closed down. For quite a number of years I’ve been going in there with my Son and since the year dot, there’s been a young Lady working there who obviously joined after she left School – now, she’s gone.
She was a good Sales Person, friendly and polite. Let’s hope she’s found something else, but in this economical climate who know’s!

I don’t like getting older and I guess it’s what a lot of people of my age would say no matter when they lived, but I’m glad to have been around to see the Villages, the converstaions of the locals, when shopping was a community gathering, an event rather than just a quick drive down to a Business Park, trying to find someone who knows what they’re talking about and just going home with the goods and not the memory of a pleasant shopping experience.

So be it!

Relative pages on Website Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s Ashford in Kent


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