The demise of the high street started somewhere in the 1990s. Not just in Grantham, as so many similarities can be drawn up with other towns throughout the UK. Unfortunately as the taxpaying public becomes increasingly financially squeezed, I think that things are destined to get worse.
In the ‘70s and ‘80s the high street was a thriving place for business, indeed a hive of activity especially on Market Day. The common theme in all this being that there was profit to be made, confidence was high; shops were futuristic in attitude with more investments being made leading to a higher number of people being employed.
Somewhere along the line many of the high street shoppers were transformed into being bargain hunters and may I say it ‘Penny Pinchers’ There was an influx of cheap shops onto the high street eager to capitalize on the growing trend. The bottom line in all this is that shops canot prosper or make long term investments without profit, and if such profits are cut to the bone everyone suffers. People are made redundant and the quality of goods and service are compromised in a desperate attempt to compete. Eventually business becomes a non-viable proposition and the shop has to quit the high street. It is then that the whole town suffers as a consequence.
There are towns that do appear to buck the trend and the common theme here being more variety admittedly at higher prices, but the service and quality reflects this and the people who shop are not prepared to settle on inferior standards.
It is getting on for two centuries ago since John Ruskin offered this advice.
‘There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man’s lawful prey.’
I guess some have learnt and some haven’t.
Grantham resident ‘70s/’80s)