Below is a thought-provoking piece written by Friends of St James Square‘s Peter Thompson. It is an idea for promoting local shopping on the Broadway in the run up to Christmas. The Traders Week would provide a good opportunity for launching it.
The threat of the Net
People increasingly buy goods on the Internet that were traditionally sold in shops and stores. The appeal of Amazon is strong for those who haven’t the time to go round the shops or have mobility problems and it must be accepted that Amazon can supply a variety of products far beyond the capacity of any retail shop to stock. So is it the end of the High Street as we know it? I mean the traders on Muswell Hill Broadway and Fortis Green Road?
The answer must be No, it is not the end provided we push back. To start with, retail services are strong [restaurants, personal services like dentistry, hairdressing, health and beauty]. And there is a strong personal service element in the sale of clothing, shoes, furniture, draft beer, newspapers (delivered by breakfast, unlike the mail) and even pharmaceutical products if linked to a prescription service. The real mischief is with products like toys and books: customers have been known to browse around the shop and, having identified what they want, to go out and buy it more cheaply on the Internet. Shame on them!
My proposal is that Traders meet the problem head on by announcing that Our Traders are Never Knowingly Undersold on the Net. This might give a boost to doing the Christmas shopping locally. At worst a customer might provide proof of the Amazon price plus post and delivery charges and say that they won’t pay more, if the trader gave a promise not to be knowingly undersold. What are the chances? Overall would there be more shopping or less? To give the idea a chance it should be publicised on Muswellife and in the Ham and High (an advertisement plus article: MUSWELL HILL TRADERS CHALLENGE THE INTERNET!) and in the Traders newsletter and in the Muswell Flyer (another good place for a punchy interview with the Traders chair, supported by our MP, and the Muswell Hill and Fortis Green newsletter). All that by way of a warm up in preparation for publicity stunts at Meet the Traders on 21 September. What larks! Further points to be made in favour of shopping locally instead of on the Net are that (1) you don’t have to wait in for the delivery man (2) it’s better for the environment [no more cardboard packaging and DPD lorries polluting our roads] and (3) no more guilt about encouraging the deplorable working conditions in the Amazon hangars. No, our shops are owned and run by community-minded people who suppress their worries about rent and rates in order to provide a smiling personal service. Hurrah. Peter Thompson