Before you rush headlong to your computer with credit card in hand, it’s worth giving a thought to all those hard-working small traders and shopkeepers in our high streets.
Increasingly, online portals such as Amazon are gaining an ever-larger slice of the market year after year by offering speedy delivery and cheaper prices for their goods.
But local shopkeepers are beginning to fight back against this onslaught from online outlets, and in many cases, doing their best to challenge the prices being offered online. While they’re not exactly matching the low online prices, many are charging just a fraction above those of the online giants.
As customers, we have to factor in and consider some of the benefits offered by our local shops. Factors such as being able to touch, feel and try before you buy are especially relevant for clothes shopping, and your local shopkeeper will typically also have the expertise and product knowledge at their fingertips to offer advice on your purchase and recommend what will be best for you.
And of course you can take your purchase home right away – rather than having to hang around trying to ensure you’re at home when it’s delivered. Another big plus is that you can return the goods easily if they break or you simply change your mind. Re-packing items and then having to organise a return with some online companies is a nightmare and they may hold your refund money for up to two weeks!
The sad thing is, if our High Streets on the Isle of Wight diminish then what would the Island have to offer, apart from a series of desolate, boarded-up High Streets with just the sound of Amazon drones dropping off parcels into peoples gardens! Is this really what we want? While it’s likely that the online companies’ sales will continue to grow year on year, at the moment there is still a place for local shops.
But let’s not just use our shops for gathering information and then leap online to make a purchase: instead we should be prepared to purchase the product from the retailer, since they have invested the time to inform us. Items might be slightly more expensive than online, but local shopkeepers have expensive and outdated business rates to pay, experienced staff to pay, electricity and heating bills to meet.
At the end of the day it is up to people to vote with their credit card. However, here’s a warning: if our High Streets vanish they will NOT make a revival. By that stage, our traditional High Street will be pronounced well and truly dead. So stop and think before you buy, and ask yourself ‘can I buy it locally? ‘