Wednesday, March 16, 2005

High Street clones

Every High Street in Britain looks the same. How true. When I came here eight years ago and then moved to the South East, I was perplexed by the sheer similarity of the High Street operations. Not because the buildings are the same, but the shops.

And that is globalisation for you. Hardly are more independent stores in almost any major High Streets. Its H&M, WHSmith, M&S, Dixons, Superdrugs, Topshop, AllSports, Boots, HMV, Claire's, Next, Vodafone, GAP and the huge sights of overrated coffee chains.

Starbucks is one example. When they first started making its move on London, it bought or rented every available space on the High Streets. Now they probably out number even McDonalds' by a factor of 3 to 1. Starbucks in a book store. Check. Starbucks in a clothing store. Check. Starbucks in a bank. Check. Starbucks in a department store. Check. Starbucks every 100 yards. Check

Signage is one of the issue. There is currently no guidance from councils to prevent such companies from posting huge corporate identities that totally detract from the surrounding area.

However the main issue still lies in offering variety. It is no wonder that whenever I go out shopping, I tend to seek solace in Camden Town where diversities are paramount.

Note: Camden High Street has not escaped the onslaught of the coffee chain proliferation. It now has a couple of Starbucks, Caffe Nero and Prets, most at the expense of local independent traders.

Are Malaysian streets turning into advertisment billboards for large multi-nationals? It just might.

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