Sunday, 9 June 2013

Blue Sky, Orange Glowing Sun, Wispy, White, Puffy Clouds and the Death Of Main Street (The Idea Of Crossed Destinies?)

Sandwiched between the sky and the land is technology...
Looking out on Main Street From abandoned retail outlet

Above us, the blue sky, orange, glowing sun and wispy, white, puffy clouds, beneath us and surrounding us the blacktop, concrete and glass structures, with the shimmering sea in the distance beyond the city.

In-betweeners (people) hurry past clutching smartphones, some have them pressed against their ear, private conversations shared among the millions sliding past on either side. In cafes, in restaurants, in supermarkets someone is calling out their private business. I don't care if Dave has arrived and wants to take you for a round of golf, YOU pick up the kids!

If we are discrete in public - text if necessary, but don't shout out your business to the world - the smartphone can be a great asset. Laptops, tablets, palmtops, smartphones mean that we can work as we travel which can be advantageous if we have deadlines to meet and some distance to travel to our next assignment, seminar or conference. We can send email, keyboard reports, surf research, write blogs and speak with colleagues as we journey - none of the above advised if you are driving.

In busy, hectic lives we can even go shopping online so that we don't miss that birthday or anniversary.

Most of us use these devices as we journey through our lives in our little bubbles of influence. What we don't experience or witness is how all these things we do and carry out, intersect and interact with others.

Because between the blue sky, orange, glowing sun and wispy, white, puffy clouds, and the blacktop, concrete and glass structures, the shimmering sea in the distance beyond the city, is the death of Main Street. All our actions impacting on other people's lives, and they on ours, as we journey.

In May this year Joshua Bamfield,   director of the Centre for Retail Research, was warning that technology will bring about the demise of the High Street.

Bamfield is the author of the report : 'Retail Futures 2018'.

According to the Retail Futures report, the share of consumer spending in High Street stores is expected to drop to 40.2% by 2014, while bedroom, online consumerism is expected to rise from 12.7% in 2012 to 21.5% by 2018. Major UK store, John Lewis, revealed in January this year that their online sales had increased by 40% in the last twelve months.

Jana Fronzeck an intern with Forrester, a global research and advisory firm, revealed that the US online retail market is expected to reach $262 billion (£169 billion, €198 billion) in 2013, with Europe forecast to reach $166 billion (£107 billion, € 125 billion) worth of online sales in the same year.

Deserted Index Store

For those working in the Main Street retail sector this will mean job losses and redundancies.

The Retail Futures report predicts a loss of 316,000 retail jobs (in the UK alone) in the next five years with pharmacies, health and beauty retailers, shops specialising in books, stationery and music on the front line of closures.

One, need only flick through the rapidly expanding list of Main Street abandonments to realise how entenched this changing landscape has become.

In 2013, even the cutely innovative Brandspace group, a major supplier of temporary space and pop up shops, went bust!

Add, Blockbuster, Ethel Austin, HMV (ICONIC with capital letters - so long nipper), Comet, Jessops, JJB Sports, Clinton Cards, Mothercare - Australia, Virgin megastores - France, FNAC, Italy...

All of the above, of course, has huge implications for the work people do, as technology changes the way we carry out tasks, as well as where and when we work.  In short, our working lives, and what we will experience as our working lives, will be changed and altered as our working landscapes are technologically transformed.

A giant rubber and latex puppet of Sir Alan Sugar is wheeled onto the stage of history : Shop're fired!

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