Sunday, 10 May 2009

Shopping locally!

Now most reasonable people can clearly see with their own eyes open that the rich individual character of many of our towns is slowly evaporating before their eyes. Our High streets once filled with a rich mix of interdependent butchers, newsagents, tobacconists, pubs, bookshops, greengrocers and family owned general stores are now rapidly filling with supermarket stores, fast food chains and global fashion outlets.

This is the result on an abject failure by local and central government to develop local economic plans to create a level playing field for local businesses and suppliers; combined with some extremely questionable planning decisions over the last thirty years; has directly lead to many of our town centre's being "regenerated" to the point where many of our local small businesses are clinging on by their finger tips.

The loss of locally owned shops and businesses to the larger retail chains further damages the local economy as any profits drain out of the area to remote corporate headquarters and local employment opportunities destroyed. Money spent in local businesses stays in the local economy three times longer than when spent in shops belonging to the larger retail chains.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) recently noted that the UK is losing 2,000 local shops every year and they estimate that if this rate of loss continues then by 2015 there will be no independent retailers left in business. Both consumers and our communities will be hit hard as they lose any real choice and economic diversity in the marketplace.

In the small towns across Monmouthshire (and much of Wales) that once particularly rich mix of local shops, small businesses and local suppliers has come under increasing pressure from the usual suspects as “identikit” chain stores have replicated themselves across our nation's high streets. The side effects of this increasingly well recognised process is a loss of a sense of community, a loss of local character as our high streets have lost their distinctive local shops which have been replaced by “micro-format” supermarket or chain store branches and a loss of local jobs.

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