The ignorance is painful

We know Amazon is killing the high street, so why do we keep clicking on ‘buy now’?

Because we value the convenience more than we do the High Street.

Sure, shopping in person involved a certain amount of hassle, but it also gave rise to so much else that we value, including many of the things we recognise as the signatures of city life.

We have considered those relative values and decided to go for the convenience and fuck the signatures of city life. Our lives, our choices and what’s it got to do with your evaluations then matey?

24 thoughts on “The ignorance is painful”

  1. I live outside the M25. My home location is almost rural. Amazon sells me access to goods which I would otherwise have to go to a city to buy. The life I have, together with its lack of ‘the signatures of city life’ are, for me, a win-win.

  2. Bloke in China (Germany province)

    I for one don’t recall being consulted on this choice before our dear and great leader decided to shut down the whole of retail for 6 months and counting!

  3. Bloke in North Dorset

    Its more than just hassle of going to the high street. I’ll only be shown what their buyers think might sell so my choices are limited and I might spend hours traipsing form shop to shop, or for those of in rural areas small town to small town.

    Instead I can sit down as when I decide I need something, spend a few minutes browsing and have my choice delivered to my door the next day.

    That’s the competition that they high street can’t compete with.

  4. There is something to what he’s saying, though (though I definitely come down on Tim’s side of the argument if I have to choose).

    Our village shop is probably going to close because everyone gets home deliveries now. I value the existence of the shop because I can think ahead, so I buy a pound of sausages a week, and some milk, and the odd bottle of crap wine, just to put £5-10 in their pockets and do my bit to keep them open.

    Won’t be enough, so when it closes, along with all the other little village shops, I will be forced to buy those few items from supermarkets, and people like Cotteswold Dairy and the local butcher who makes the sausages will have to try to sell to Tesco or go out of business, and good luck to them there.

    Yes, I know, it’s progress. But I’m a hypocrite and I like to conserve some stuff that accords with the way of life of an English village.

    Maybe it doesn’t work for High Streets – that’s a lot of tenners – and certainly not for a High Street full of identikit shoe shops, WH Smiths stores and charity shops.

    But I do wonder if we are currently valuing convenience and clicks now without considering what will happen once we’re all staying at home and being served from automated warehouses.

    Yes, yes, I know about wheelwrights, and I know that competitors to Amazon could start up etc, and maybe it will all be awesome, but still. It’s not all about convenience and clicking, at least I don’t think it is.

    It’s rather like the pubs – most now owned by giant pub cos, with all those lovely economies of scale and theoretical benefits, but most on a permanent cyles of high prices and regular flits by broke landlords.

    I can’t help thinking it was better when a bloke owned his house, and sold beer from it. Some still do. I’m lucky enough to live near some of them. Everyone else (who likes pubs) is ultimately fucked. But they can get beer from Waitrose so who cares, I guess.

    Not to mention (to return to Amazon) that we are putting money in the pocket of the woke billionaire who uses the Washington Post to undermine western society and closed his servers to Parler because it was ‘far right’ (ie it allowed people to quibble with the trans debate and criticise the Democrats).

    That’s not nothing, is it?

  5. “Our custom didn’t merely support the physical layout of high streets and other retail districts, but the second- and even third-order services that sprouted up to capitalise on the opportunities they presented, from coffee stands to shoeshine stands. Above all, perhaps, we forfeit sociality, and what the urbanist Jane Jacobs called the “sidewalk ballet” of the happenstance interactions that bring life, vibrancy and safety to the public way. A little more of all these things disappears every time we click on “add to basket”.”

    Yes, but we also create new ones. If you’re not going to town, you’re taking the kids to the park. You talk to people. You buy a coffee there rather than in town. Look at all the stuff that barely existed 20 years ago – comic cons, tattoo parlours, craft courses.

    It’s like the whole thing of all those city businesses that will be ruined by people working from home. Well, yes. But work from home people will still go out to lunch some days. Or actually, work in their local cafe. Maybe they’ll have time to take up new hobbies and spend money learning to tango instead of stuffing money into the mouths of the overpaid assholes who run the railways.

  6. The solution to the Washington Post problem is an occasional cull of the buggers who run such things. Come the Revolution, eh?

  7. Interested,

    “It’s rather like the pubs – most now owned by giant pub cos, with all those lovely economies of scale and theoretical benefits, but most on a permanent cyles of high prices and regular flits by broke landlords.

    I can’t help thinking it was better when a bloke owned his house, and sold beer from it. Some still do. I’m lucky enough to live near some of them. Everyone else (who likes pubs) is ultimately fucked. But they can get beer from Waitrose so who cares, I guess.”

    When were pubs not owned by someone else? There weren’t large numbers of free houses in the 70s and 80s. They were pubs owned by breweries.

    And most of the problem is the smoking ban. You now have city centre bars for after work drinks/young people to meet up, and restaurants in pub buildings. Wet pubs in the country or on estates are gone. My local pub used to be booming before that happened, and since then, it’s changed landlord at least twice, and is up for lease again.

  8. Bloke in China (Germany province)

    TMB, they are all far-right enemies of Das Volk who will no longer be able to suckle at the teat of taxpayer-funded telly. Many other artists have today denounced their traitorous colleagues in the national press, and underlined their own wholehearted and unquestioning support of the government’s political direction.

    Several have already recanted, and agreed to undertake a period of reflection and self-criticism. The worst offenders will be exiled.

    This is not East Berlin in 1976.

  9. Trouble with High Streets is that they are full of aggressive beggars and other stabby types. Thoroughly unpleasant experience, and the woodentops nowhere to be seen: probably too busy beating up a pensioner for resting on a bench.
    Put a wall around them: Heinlein had his “abandoned areas” 50 years ago. Most cities are Detroitificating as fast as they can. Leave ’em to it.

  10. @BoM$

    When were pubs not owned by someone else? There weren’t large numbers of free houses in the 70s and 80s. They were pubs owned by breweries.

    Yeah, fair enough, though there is a great difference between puibs owned by breweries and those owned by hedge funds, and where I am there’s an unusual number of excellent pubs still owned by individuals.

    I agree re the smoking ban, plus the absurd drink drive crackdown, and you can throw in all the dry January and health bollocks, and the fact that breweries are all geared up to do polypins now so you don’t even have to go to a pub for a proper pint, but I still think the pubcos are ruining the whole thing further still.

    Until last year we’ve had a regular pub crawl route starting at The Woolpack at Slad, to The Butcher’s Arms at Sheepscombe, to the Black Horse at Cranham, to The Foston’s Ash near Miserden, to The Bell at Sapperton and ending at The Crown at Frampton Mansell.

    All privately owned, and we could add in a bunch of others, and all still really good and mostly busy. Meanwhile other local pubs owned by Punch and Enterprise etc are closing and reopening and closing again as though on a rota. It’s not a coincidence.

  11. @BoM4

    Sorry, when I said ‘yeah fair enough’ I didn’t meant to this bit – Wet pubs in the country or on estates are gone – because as I say above, and in my experience, they’re still out there.

    Admittedly, they mostly also now do food but you can and we do just go in for beer.

    We might be in a bit of a microclimate though, I accept that. Lots of disposable income round our way, lots of tourism, lots of older people who remember pubs and want to retain them.

  12. I don’t really understand why high street shopping is such a sacred cow. If I do go out shopping I much prefer a modern mall or retail park where I can park my car without getting stiffed. The convenience store near me is attached to the filling station and appears to be thriving.

  13. The interesting thing is that the lockdown has also revived some shops – I go to a greengrocers to buy fruit and veg – really top quality stuff – they used to do wholesale to high end restaurants and decided to (re)open a shop. Since I prefer to choose my own asparagus, courgettes etc, this works far better for me than buying sight unseen from Ocado. The question is whether they keep going after we return to normal. And there is a question of flow – I like buying there because everything is fresh and high quality, but if freshness dropped off, I’d be less likely to buy. I hope that they keep going, but I suspect it will be a battle.

    As for most of the old high street – we happily traded it in for the supermarket and we will see another revolution as they change over again.

  14. Interested
    Our village shop is probably going to close because everyone gets home deliveries now
    Which is a shame for your village shop, but somewhat unusual. Most smaller shops out of town have done well out of corona panic – people staying local, not picking up stuff on the way home from work etc. Even with deliveries. At the start of lockdown many stores had record sales weeks, and many are still above previous levels.

  15. Interested,

    “We might be in a bit of a microclimate though, I accept that. Lots of disposable income round our way, lots of tourism, lots of older people who remember pubs and want to retain them.”

    The rural pubs around North Wiltshire have taken a beating, and it seems to be similar into Oxfordshire. The pretty pubs that serve a lot of food seem to be fine, and yes, you can still have a drink (assuming you can get a table that isn’t reserved), but they are predominantly restaurants now. Lots of pubs have closed and the rest are struggling.

  16. @Jimmers

    Which is a shame for your village shop, but somewhat unusual. Most smaller shops out of town have done well out of corona panic – people staying local, not picking up stuff on the way home from work etc.

    Yes, our local farm shop has done really well. The village shop less so. But I’m talking about trends, not the Covid era (though that does now look like a trend…)

  17. “The question is whether they keep going after we return to normal.” I wouldn’t worry about that…

  18. “Above all, perhaps, we forfeit sociality, and what the urbanist Jane Jacobs called the “sidewalk ballet” of the happenstance interactions that bring life, vibrancy and safety to the public way. A little more of all these things disappears every time we click on “add to basket”

    I think you have the crux of the issue there. The people complaining the most about Amazon probably don’t shop as much on High St as they say, but they do like sitting in coffee shops watching the crowds, and they want them herded back.

  19. I’ve just had a email from Waitrose begging me to go back to home delivery. The ease of getting a slot was in inverse proportion to the amount of panic being generated by HMG. Now I’m shopping like old times with no mask, nobody says anything & it’s a bit like an invisibility cloak- nobody acknowledges your existence…

  20. The Internet has done some damage.

    But far less than the last 12 months of BlueLabour antics and far less than council thieving and endless regulating at national and local levels. Smoking ban re pubs as mentioned above.

    Get rid of all fucking rates and 99% of bullshit regs plus no more LD shite ever and we will see who is closing the shops.

  21. We’ve settled into a pattern of basic items from supermarket usually with home delivery and spending our time instead going to local butchers-fishmonger and baker for to finish off the shop

  22. The signature of city life was that you could get access to many things close by that you couldn’t in the country.

    Now more and more of those things are close by no matter where you live – ubiquitous package delivery.

    The high street served it purpose, now Amazon does.

    The high street exists for us, not us for it.

  23. High street is being killed by the state not Amazon. Yes Amazon has an effect–but it is far from only or even most important cause.

    The stuff I buy from Amazon would mostly have never been on the high street anyway. Yes –they have helped kill bookshops–cos no shop can carry millions of titles and in the 2-3 weeks you used to wait for delivery of books ordered from a shop Amazon can get you the book and you have read it several times.

    Women can buy clothes on the Net but they cant try them on and ask you what you think.

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