Surviving the retail apocalypse

Every few months, a little shop in my little town* is boarded up. Some weeks later, a business moves in, and tries to grow. We've lost the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker** and gained an English tutor, web developer and Polish supermarket.

Change is unsettling. We want to know reasons.

The newspapers call it the "retail apocalypse", especially as so many well-known chains have gone bankrupt.

Twenty years ago, it was unthinkable that HMV, Dixons and Toys R Us would be gone. Instead, we have Amazon, a plethora of online storefronts, and high streets full of boarded-up windows.

Fingers point at Amazon, though lately they're pointing at direct-to-consumer sales by suppliers. The article makes valid points about cutting out the "middle man", but we think it's more complicated than that.

You probably noticed, back in 2005 or so, that house prices went crazy. People used to living in cities couldn't afford to rent or buy, so were pushed out to suburbs and then villages.

They brought their shopping habits with them.

The selection at the local grocer couldn't match the wide variety of the larger supermarkets, so they got food delivered. Ditto clothes and entertainment. Slowly, the shops closed and the delivery vans grew in number.

Those who remained in the cities were squeezed ever harder. In Cambridge, the average house price is fourteen times average income. We spend more on rent and mortgages than we spend on anything else. It's mirrored in the US: spending on housing and education is up; spending on almost everything else is down.

So, how do we survive the retail apocalypse?

The shops that thrive are the ones creating an experience you can't get anywhere else. The hairdresser with its devoted customers, and the cafe with its home-made cakes based on the owner's grandmother's recipes. The ones that are irreplaceable.

At Follow Me Post, we are passionate about parcels, but we are also passionate about supporting local communities. That's why we're setting up partnerships with local retailers*** to offer rewards to our Parcel Hosts. We'd love for you to join us and become a Parcel Host, so that you can support your local high street while you are rewarded for helping us end missed deliveries forever.

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* Essentially, a village with scope creep

** Knick-knacks store. The kind of place with eighteen types of Tupperware

*** If your business (online or offline) would like to become a rewards partner and offer discounts and vouchers to our Hosts, please contact us.