Change in the way we shop has played a huge part

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STEVE CANAVAN: Aisle need to improve on my supermarket social skills

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Remember when Woolworths went to the wall? It was the end of an era, a clear sign that something had changed.

Then last year Comet was a big name casualty of the move to online buying.

Now another fixture on our high streets, the troubled entertainment chain HMV which has branches in Portsmouth and Chichester, has announced its intention to call in the administrators. Camera specialist Jessops has already gone into administration.

The hastily hand-written signs put up in the windows of its closed shops tell their own sad story. Because this isn’t just about brands, it’s about people losing their jobs.

At a Jessops store in Warrington, Cheshire staff put their own photographs in the window in an attempt to find new employment.

The accompanying sign said simply: ‘Five unemployed and loyal staff seeking work. Can you help?’

But although we may bemoan the loss of institutions such as HMV, which opened its first shop on London’s Oxford Street in 1921, the inescapable truth is that they are failing because of our changing shopping habits.

More and more of us are logging on and buying via the internet rather than heading into town, paying for parking and traipsing round the shops.

It’s much easier to go to a price comparison website and then buy with the click of a mouse in the comfort of our own home.

Of those who do still make the effort to visit high street chains, how many only do so to see and touch a product and get a demonstration from a member of staff – before going back home and ordering it online?

And in the case of HMV, the rise and rise of downloads and competition from retail rivals such as Amazon has inevitably hit CD and DVD sales.

So when we look at the changing landscape of the high street, the reality is that the way we shop today has played a big role.

We cannot simply stand by and shake our heads. Because, like it or not, we are part of the problem.