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David Porter » Blogs: My Own » Grumpy Old Shopper 5 – Centres

Grumpy Old Shopper 5 – Centres

Centres of excellence, of learning, of entertainment, of towns and villages, of people’s hearts and well-being. Centres are good. Shopping Centres are not. I understand the need for retail (see all previous blogs on shopping). I understand that most people seem to need retail therapy more or less constantly on tap and can’t resist any retail opportunity, virtual or real.

Good luck to them and all the jobs that go with that. Building fine shopping malls in our cities, no problem. Centralise them so they stay in urban areas to ensure the survival of vibrant town and city life. That’s great.

However, why do they all have to be indenti-kit, only minor variations on geography, heights, size and number of attached car parks? The shop outlets inside are ALL THE SAME IN ANY AND EVERY SHOPPING CENTRE.

All the major stores have to be there, often on several levels with ways in from different directions. All selling the same products as not only their own branches, but also as branches of their rivals at home and abroad. Their market research tells them that it is essential they are in a mall if another company is. So there we have it, the vicious circle of centralised shopping theory.

There seems to be no way back from where we are now. Small, independent retailers with unique, local and sometimes quirky flavours are not only few and far between, but if they prosper at all, aim to become a national chain with ambitions to have a presence in every shopping centre themselves.

And car parking? All identical design again, soulless concrete deserts, monitored by big brother cameras, charging by the minute. They are essential and unavoidable, public transport never being able to render cars obsolete in such places. But they exploit captive shoppers ruthlessly, it being impossible to visit all these shops without parking.

Seat to sit down? Fat chance. However old, decrepit or weary people are, the seats are not provided in anything like sufficient numbers. Not all partially disabled people are in wheelchairs. Not all families with toddlers and children can keep moving all the time. Even in stores, the seats for partners to sit on while things are tried on, are almost non-existent.

The problem is that much of the working, daily world is made for and by people who are fully mobile, completely fit and inspired by the opportunity to offer up money in whatever city they find themselves, reassured by the sameness of it all. If only the planners would spare a thought for that handful, that brave minority who are reluctant shoppers, and just give us plenty of free, guaranteed available parking and seats everywhere to let us sit and moan and whinge and whine and rest our poor feet.

That way we might feel more like buying a shirt, a jacket, clothes for all the women in our lives of all ages, a meal, another mobile phone, a round of coffees, shoes, the latest TV screen, snacks, CDs and a holiday today. Then we might have the energy to face either coming back again or going to another replica centre to buy a shirt, a jacket, clothes for all the women in our lives of all ages, a meal, another mobile phone, a round of coffees, shoes, the latest TV screen, snacks, CDs and a holiday tomorrow. And for ever and ever. Amen.

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2 Responses to "Grumpy Old Shopper 5 – Centres"

  1. David Porter says:

    No, I’m from East Anglia. Worked in children’s theatre, drama teaching, politics and the performing arts and writing, not engineering or milk.
    Best wishes

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