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Why Corona has proved beyond all reasonable doubt that we need our high street Why Corona has proved beyond all reasonable doubt that we need our high street
Why Corona has proved beyond all reasonable doubt that we need our high street
The High Street has a role to play in the modern world - and a crucial one at that

We currently find ourselves in a national lockdown due to this unforeseen viral tsunami hitting our shores a few weeks ago.


Being in lockdown a huge challenge to so many people in so many ways, it is fair to say it has tested and stretched everything to the absolute limit.


Whilst I’m not equipped to discuss the situation in terms of healthcare or the governments strategy in how they are handling the situation, I would just like to draw to everyone’s attention how this event has shown how our high street is not obsolete. It is not just a luxury or a romantic idea from a by gone era… it has proven it is still essential to our survival.


I have always been a huge fan and supporter of little independent shops. I owned a greengrocers for 9 years and I have also supplied greengrocers via the wholesale markets for over 20 years.


For me, the pro’s for using our smaller independent shops amongst others were


  • they are run by experts in their field
  • they are better value, they are better quality
  • they use less packaging
  • they are more environmentally friendly
  • they are fun friendly and vibrant places
  • you can get different products
  • they support your communities.


However these recent times have given me another reason and this reason trumps them all - without our high street we have no plan B!


I dread to think how much worse this situation might have been if it wasn’t for our small shops, the greengrocers, the butchers, the fishmongers, the corner shops or convenience stores.


When the supermarkets shelves are bare, and you cannot get a delivery slot … what do you do?


Well luckily we still have some great shops on our high streets and in our towns, albeit fewer than before but thank goodness they are there!


  • What would have happened if you couldn’t pop down to your local shop to get essentials that you couldn’t get from the supermarket?
  • What would have happened to those in isolation that couldn’t get a delivery slot for 2-3 weeks (if at all) from the supermarkets?
  • What would have happened to all those people with empty fridges either too worried or unable to get to a supermarket that invariably requires driving to?


Even if you could get to a supermarket, you were faced with the prospect of queuing for an age, to browse increasingly empty shelves.


I am not being critical of the supermarkets they have done a great job in incredibly hard circumstances and no blame lies with them. I think they have been great and done everything to minimise disruption and there have been some lovely positive initiatives like allowing key workers and the elderly in on their own for the first hour of opening.


What I have seen is that these smaller previously often overlooked shops have filled an enormous gap. They stepped up when our previously loved and trusted status quo was shattered.


I personally know many people still in the fresh produce business and they have been and are still working around the clock, seeing 100’s if not 1,000’s of new customers needing their services!


This is amazing and lovely to see. But there's also a concern - what if, when all this is over, consumers go back to buying everything online, putting all their money, custom and faith in the hands of a very small number of companies. And what happens when that fails?


If we ever find ourselves in a situation like this again - and next time it might be a fuel shortage, border disruptions, power failures etc. - if we don’t have our high street and smaller independent shops? There won't be another option, nor an alternative, nor a plan B.


I’m not saying that these smaller independent shops are secondary or inferior and should just be considered a substitute for the bigger multi nationals, what I’m saying is make sure you support them because when it comes to the crunch… these are going to be the only people that can support you!


So what to do?

It's pretty easy really. It doesn’t need to cost you any more money and you don’t need to buy anything you don't buy already. The key is just to share your spending out a little rather than just on one supermarket.


  • Get in contact with your local shops
  • See if they deliver
  • Get a paper delivered from your newsagents
  • Get your milk delivered from your milkman
  • Get your fruit and veg delivery from your local greengrocer
  • Buy your bread from the bakers.


Just set aside a little of your weeks shopping and get it from the amazing little independent shops they we are still so lucky to have around our country.


There is a common misconception that independent shops are more expensive. In some instances they are the same price if not cheaper, but the positives are huge and will benefit not only you but the community as a whole. The money you spend in these stores generally stays in the community. The business rates, the overall improvement and impact it has on your own town or village is huge. It will be these businesses and not the supermarkets or Amazon that will be working with your local community groups, schools and churches.


Before you go online to buy something just stop and think: would this purchase be better suited or benefit one of my local shops?


TV Presenter: Eat Well for Less, Best Home Cook and Food Truth or Scare. Author of Fakeaway, Good Food Sorted.

Why Corona has proved beyond all reasonable doubt that we need our high street
The High Street has a role to play in the modern world - and a crucial one at that
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We currently find ourselves in a national lockdown due to this unforeseen viral tsunami hitting our shores a few weeks ago.


Being in lockdown a huge challenge to so many people in so many ways, it is fair to say it has tested and stretched everything to the absolute limit.


Whilst I’m not equipped to discuss the situation in terms of healthcare or the governments strategy in how they are handling the situation, I would just like to draw to everyone’s attention how this event has shown how our high street is not obsolete. It is not just a luxury or a romantic idea from a by gone era… it has proven it is still essential to our survival.


I have always been a huge fan and supporter of little independent shops. I owned a greengrocers for 9 years and I have also supplied greengrocers via the wholesale markets for over 20 years.


For me, the pro’s for using our smaller independent shops amongst others were


  • they are run by experts in their field
  • they are better value, they are better quality
  • they use less packaging
  • they are more environmentally friendly
  • they are fun friendly and vibrant places
  • you can get different products
  • they support your communities.


However these recent times have given me another reason and this reason trumps them all - without our high street we have no plan B!


I dread to think how much worse this situation might have been if it wasn’t for our small shops, the greengrocers, the butchers, the fishmongers, the corner shops or convenience stores.


When the supermarkets shelves are bare, and you cannot get a delivery slot … what do you do?


Well luckily we still have some great shops on our high streets and in our towns, albeit fewer than before but thank goodness they are there!


  • What would have happened if you couldn’t pop down to your local shop to get essentials that you couldn’t get from the supermarket?
  • What would have happened to those in isolation that couldn’t get a delivery slot for 2-3 weeks (if at all) from the supermarkets?
  • What would have happened to all those people with empty fridges either too worried or unable to get to a supermarket that invariably requires driving to?


Even if you could get to a supermarket, you were faced with the prospect of queuing for an age, to browse increasingly empty shelves.


I am not being critical of the supermarkets they have done a great job in incredibly hard circumstances and no blame lies with them. I think they have been great and done everything to minimise disruption and there have been some lovely positive initiatives like allowing key workers and the elderly in on their own for the first hour of opening.


What I have seen is that these smaller previously often overlooked shops have filled an enormous gap. They stepped up when our previously loved and trusted status quo was shattered.


I personally know many people still in the fresh produce business and they have been and are still working around the clock, seeing 100’s if not 1,000’s of new customers needing their services!


This is amazing and lovely to see. But there's also a concern - what if, when all this is over, consumers go back to buying everything online, putting all their money, custom and faith in the hands of a very small number of companies. And what happens when that fails?


If we ever find ourselves in a situation like this again - and next time it might be a fuel shortage, border disruptions, power failures etc. - if we don’t have our high street and smaller independent shops? There won't be another option, nor an alternative, nor a plan B.


I’m not saying that these smaller independent shops are secondary or inferior and should just be considered a substitute for the bigger multi nationals, what I’m saying is make sure you support them because when it comes to the crunch… these are going to be the only people that can support you!


So what to do?

It's pretty easy really. It doesn’t need to cost you any more money and you don’t need to buy anything you don't buy already. The key is just to share your spending out a little rather than just on one supermarket.


  • Get in contact with your local shops
  • See if they deliver
  • Get a paper delivered from your newsagents
  • Get your milk delivered from your milkman
  • Get your fruit and veg delivery from your local greengrocer
  • Buy your bread from the bakers.


Just set aside a little of your weeks shopping and get it from the amazing little independent shops they we are still so lucky to have around our country.


There is a common misconception that independent shops are more expensive. In some instances they are the same price if not cheaper, but the positives are huge and will benefit not only you but the community as a whole. The money you spend in these stores generally stays in the community. The business rates, the overall improvement and impact it has on your own town or village is huge. It will be these businesses and not the supermarkets or Amazon that will be working with your local community groups, schools and churches.


Before you go online to buy something just stop and think: would this purchase be better suited or benefit one of my local shops?


TV Presenter: Eat Well for Less, Best Home Cook and Food Truth or Scare. Author of Fakeaway, Good Food Sorted.

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