Are they just adapting to social change?

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A friend and I were recently talking about the decline of the traditional town high streets and local shops, a conversation sparked by the closure of a shop we both used.

It seems everyone has a theory on this decline and where to apportion the blame.

When I was about 15 and working on the family fruit & veg barrow in Portsmouth’s Charlotte Street, I remember my grandfather saying that these new giant ‘supermarkets’ were going to kill our business.

This was why he repeatedly urged me to seek a more stable future after leaving school.

In the 1960s and 1970s it was so packed with people doing their weekly grocery shopping that you couldn’t move down Charlotte Street. Yet by the middle of the ’80s footfall had markedly fallen.

But are the supermarkets responsible, or are we unwitting contributors to the changing face of our high streets?

In post-war Britain, few people had cars so mums walked to the local shop to see the butcher, baker and grocer.

But as the popularity of the car grew, parking in our streets, many of which were still single-lane, became a novel problem until the introduction of double-yellow lines and parking fines made it more serious.

With our fast-paced lives and addiction to driving, supermarkets have simply adapted to social change.

The internet accelerated the decline of our high street and local shops, as the convenience and time-saving ease of online shopping has also hit footfall in the large retail shops, most of which have had to rapidly develop their own online stores or face a slow decline like the dinosaurs.

As another year draws to a close and we all say to each other, ‘wow, didn’t that year go fast,’ our lives show no signs of slowing down and everything is getting faster, from our food to our broadband speed.

As we continue to evolve and change our social habits, prepare to say goodbye to more familiar household items.

With music downloads set to break records again this year, how long will it be before you see a CD rack in a charity shop window and say ‘wow, remember when we had one of those?’