The UK traditionally had a love affair with High Street shopping. The city centres would be packed each weekend, with shoppers hungry to buy. In recent years, many such city and town centre shops have suffered a decline. Some of this has been down to the Internet and the recession, but the main culprit has been the growth of shopping centres.
Countries such as the USA are well used to such centres, usually calling them shopping malls. These malls maybe extremely successful in other countries, but they do pose some problems in the UK.
Recent developments in my city have left mixed feelings.
Yes, the centres can be convenient when they are in a central position. Those on the outskirts of town are only for those shoppers who have their own transport.
Once bustling streets in my city now look dismal. With almost every other shop boarded up less shoppers visit all the time. As these vacant store lie empty vandals strike and add to the crumbling appearance.
Individual shops selling products that are more unusual seem to be disappearing fast. We are left with many shops that are all owned by the same company. Monopolies are rife.
Some shopping centres offer great opportunities for those less mobile. They can be convenient and save the need to dart about from shop to shop, across the town. However, on the whole their impact on British town centres is negative
Unless councils and the government decide to flatten empty shops, and use the spare land for something useful, our city centres will soon look like no man's land.
One final afterthought.
Already some shopping centres are struggling to survive financially. If they lose the battle and close, these centres will be an even bigger eyesore and, with other shops already closed, online shopping may be all that is left.