If you are a retail chain which tries to offer everything to everyone, with a combination of real and online presence, and solid monopolistic aspirations, you are probably fine. If you are a small store, owned and controlled locally, with a clear idea of what customers need and why they shop there – and a sense of how to enhance a sense of local distinctiveness – you also seem to be fine. It is the great, bland, anonymous, second rate rump in the middle that is in trouble.
This also allows us to peer a little into the future and see the post-Portas high street. Some high streets clearly have no future, but many of them do – but it is different, dedicated to distinctiveness, spectacle, street markets and occasion, and marked by a clear understanding of what has to be bought locally and what products will always be easier and cheaper via the online clones.
This is a future for high streets as engines of community and cultural regeneration as well as economic activity – as the core of a revival of what is best locally which seems to have its roots in the increasing demand for authenticity. But for more than just shopping – as cultural and recycling centres, and much else besides.
March 2013, p147
from his ‘Going Local’ column (other columns here)