I recently expressed concern about the demise of independent outlets in Spalding and this being a national problem I have come across some interesting statistics that are having an effect on the decline of the high street throughout the country.
Many people yet to claim a pension can easily recall the time when the majority of shops were independent one-offs, probably owned by the person behind the counter.
An article in a recent Labour research publication found that after a steady fall in numbers only ten per cent have survived since being founded in the late 50s.
The greatest drop has occurred over the last decade when 40 per cent of independents went under. There are only some 7,000 butchers, 4,000 greengrocers and 3,000 bakers still in business.
Fishmongers are becoming extinct, with less than 1,000 left in the county.
All of which leads to the concerns and fears in the community that I have mentioned in a previous letter to Mailbox, in the same way as the wholesale closure of pubs.
Communities are created by that daily encounter in the local shop and people rely on the kind of social networking and interchange that occurs at all kinds of levels in small shops, but rarely in big supermarkets.
I note the Government has charged TV presenter Mary Portas with reviewing the future of the high street, which will include examining how to increase the number of small and independent retailers in town centres.
The British Retail Consortium, who welcomed the appointment, cautioned against ‘making life harder for any particular category of retailers’. I wonder if the review will reach more rural areas such as Spalding?