The plight of House of Fraser highlights a worrying trend which has huge implications for us all
The news this morning that House of Fraser has collapsed into administration should be a worry for all of us.
And the news that Mike Ashley has snapped it up for £90m shouldn’t ease our collective conscience.
Whilst it would be easy to point the finger at online, it is a truth that much of the once great department store’s woes were self-inflicted.
"Retail has long been relied upon to sustain our High Streets and it is the High Street which is the beating heart of every community up and down the country"
Along with Toys R Us, Maplin and Poundworld, the business had fundamental problems which it ultimately was unable to resolve.
However, there’s a wider issue here. And it’s a social one.
Who doesn’t like shopping online? Easy, quick, convenient – everything that a shopping experience should be, right?
Well, maybe only partially.
In the frenzied dash to embrace everything online, are we in danger of losing our sense of being? Are we risking that very thing that should be at the heart of every town up and down the country? Are we losing our sense of community?
Isolated at our laptops and on our smartphones, our once thriving High Streets are rapidly morphing before our very eyes.
And we are all complicit in the change which is occurring.
Retail has long been relied upon to sustain our High Streets and it is the High Street which is the beating heart of every community up and down the country.
They are the places where we go to not only shop but to meet people, to socialise, to gather to dine, to relax.
As humans we are naturally social beings and we need that interaction, that engagement, that stimulus.
But what we are witnessing is a sustained dissolution of our High Streets which begs the question; what is the end game? Assuming that our collective behaviour shows no sign of abating, our insatiable thirst for online nowhere near quenched, what will the town centres of tomorrow look like?
Are we, in the quest for better and better bargains online, unwittingly creating a dystopian vision of our future society?
The time to act is now.
More than ever, we are concerned for the legacy we will leave behind when it comes to climate change and global warming.
Should we equally be concerned for the communities we will leave behind?
The plight of House of Fraser as it begins a new chapter in its 169 year history should be a wake-up call for all of us; sadly, the evidence suggests that on the contrary, this will rapidly become yesterday’s news.
Until the next time.
Andrew Busby is Founder of Retail Reflections, a global retail influencer and an IBM Futurist