Waterlooville's Dead High Street
It is a lovely sunny Sunday and as a break from house work, I thought I would go out and take a fe photos. I wasn't really sure where to go, in fact I sat at the top of the road for about a full minute before deciding to go to Waterlooville. Then, almost obviously, I took the wrong turning so ended up going the long way.
I recently read about one of the footwear stores closing down in Waterlooville. I was quite surprised, I am aware there is a new development happening in the area and thought that meant that business was on the up.
While I don't live far from Waterlooville (its properly 6 miles) I hardly ever go there. Havant is a little closer and seems to have more going on. I think that is likely because there are much better travel links in Havant with a decent Bus Station and a reasonable Train Station. While Im not sure about the buses, Waterlooville does not have any train station.
As I arrived I couldn't help but feel sad. The high street I used to visit as a child (Dad lived nearby to the town centre when I was little) felt so empty. There just seemed to be shop after shop that was empty. Some where boarded up, others you could see right into the guts of the shop remains. Their signs still partly hanging, left like a carcass in the desert.
There were other shops too that looked like their closure had happened more recently.
It closed my mind some of these stores maybe closed for the day. However at 12 noon on a Sunday I doubt that was the case.
I only found life in three locations, Wilko, Costa and the pub at the top of the road. I guess the fact its a sunny day means people are more likely to be doing other things maybe... I don't know. But I do know, them not being here on
the one day I am doesn't change the fact the shops would still be closed down.
Im not sure if this is indicative of many other high streets as the increasing appeal in online shopping increases, isn't the obvious affect that many high street retails will go out of business?
I used to kind of love walking around town going into 2 or 3 different stores comparing prices to work out which was the best price. Yes, I was a cheap child, nothings changed, haha. The difference is now I can check 10 or 20 stores prices from my phone while I sit on the sofa. There is no need to walk around for hours.
I understand that some people may say what about clothes? You need to try them on... Well, thats where the rise of a number of online clothes stores has changed. With greater delivery and return options you can now try on the clothes at home and return the ones you don't like. So why waste time and often parking fees on going to the high street?
I mentioned at the start my surprise though. That is because of the investment there has been in Waterlooville in the recent years. In fact much of that investment has been the area slightly away from the high street where the aformentioned footwear store is located.
In addition to these stores a Costa has also been added (somewhen in the last year I think, as a non coffee person its hard to keep track). I am super interested in how coffee shops are doing this. Seemingly as less people shop and so, surely less are spending the day at the shops. So no one needs a break or to sit down mid shop... do they? My own conclusion is that coffee shops are now actually drawing people to the high streets. They come for coffee and look in the odd shop, rather than the other way around.
This is not the only area that has been renovated in Waterlooville. After many years of talk, finally there has been a start to the development a little further away (again) from the high street. In recent weeks, maybe months, a McDonalds and the metal outline of another building has appeared.
Not knowing the cost of any of this I wonder if the high street asks for more property fees and so stores go elsewhere? Both of these site are within a ten minute walk of the high street and do / will have free short stay customer parking. Something the high street does not have.
No doubt a large city centre can draw people in with historical landmarks, or even events (knowing they will have people there). The... Our, high streets need to do more to not just attract brands and businesses, but people too. Better initiatives need to happen if we want these places to exist in 5 years time. Towns could very easily become just residential areas with the occasional coffee shop or pub. The stores will make their way to business units and parks away from our communities.
Maybe this wouldn't be bad...I don't know. But Waterlooville is fast proving the time of the high street is over!