So the first Government article I decided to look at was The Portas Review by Mary Portas in 2011, who was asked by the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister to conduct an independent review into the state of our high streets and town centres.
Straight away, Portas talks about that she doesn’t want to point fingers at anyone at all; as to blame someone would be the easy decision. However, she does admit that supermarkets have “delivered highly convenient, needs-based retailing, which serves today’s consumers well.” This is what I discovered from my earlier research when I looked into some general information, in which I found out this was why supermarkets are doing so well in today’s society.
Portas then goes into looking at how spending is done in shops today, giving a comparison 2000, today (which would have been 2011), and 2014. It’s quite interesting to see that Town Centre and Out of Town sales have still been the highest by far still in those years.
However, she then states, “the recession has had a big impact” on these shops. Both markets and small shops felt the effects of this, with sales going down.
Then she goes onto the main subject of interest for me which was the rise of supermarkets. She gives some figures that “For every £1 spent in our shops nearly 50 pence is spent on food and grocery sales” according to the Office for National Statistics.
I found this paragraph to be very interesting, but also raised an important point:
In 2008 the Competition Commission found that the several specialist grocery stores had declined much since the 1950s: “The number of butchers and greengrocers declined from 40,000–45,000 each in the 1950s to fewer than 10,000 each by 2000. The
number of bakeries declined from around 25,000 in 1950 to around 8,000 by 2000 and the number of fishmongers declined from around 10,000 to around 2,000 over the same period.”
This is a serious point, as it shows that the more traditional shops that would be in markets are now being driven out by the supermarkets, who are not only just carrying food, but also all sorts of other goods as well. Portas realises the importance of this, as she states “It is these social and cultural experiences which will provide critical reasons to go into town as opposed to driving to the shopping centre.”
I think hat an amount of our money going into the pockets of the big players and leaving our communities we are doing damage to the entrepreneurs, the potential brands and the wealth creators of our future, and ultimately to ourselves.
Jan Gehl (2010) , who wrote Cities for People, had a great quote which sums up the idea of trying to keep town markets alive.
“Wanting to go into town is different from wanting or needing to shop. It is about an experience. It is about sociability and relaxation, creativity and being part of something you cannot get at home or work.”
The rest of the article went on to talking about the recommendations that Portas wanted to be taken, so that the town markets might be able to carry on forwards. One piece of advice that I found interesting was that she suggested that more specialist shops came into play. I found this interesting because Coventry Market actually seems to have specialist markets, so this is an interesting thought at the end.