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Recently, the large number of chain stores around the UK has led to the creation of many “clone towns”: towns similar in appearance and atmosphere with the same shops as the rest of the country filling their high street. Naturally this shift in environments as places begin to lose their individuality and heritage affects everybody and has a great impact on individuals, communities and cultures.
One benefit of these “cloneT” is that the increase in supermarket chains leads to consumers being able to choose from a wider selection of goods as they tend to stock more products than smaller, local shops which cannot afford to buy very large quantities of things. The fact that the supermarkets buy in bulk also means products are cheaper as they benefit from economies of scale. It is easy to say that one should support local, individual retailers, however if they cannot price competitively and offer all of the goods we need it’s natural for people to go to larger chain stores which meet their needs.
Communities also benefit from increased employment opportunities provided by larger retail outlets which can afford to hire larger volumes of staff and provide additional employee benefits. For example, a large supermarket like Morrisons can afford to put more money into training their staff and can offer them benefits such as staff discounts which a smaller store may not be able to fund. In rural areas there’s also the added bonus that supermarkets (or their smaller, express stores) can provide goods which they may otherwise be unable to buy without having to travel.
For example, very small villages are less likely to have a shop dedicated to electronic goods but these can be bought within the supermarket instead. Simply because a high street is not formed entirely of local stores, it does not mean the entire culture of the place will be lost as shops are not all that it comes from. The history, monuments, landscape, and local dialect will remain unchanged and they are the true things which define an area. Local produce is still sold in supermarkets and ultimately it is a case of quality and personal preference.
If people prefer the lamb from their local butcher’s as opposed to the pre-packaged supermarket’s offerings then they can still choose to buy what they want. Attitudes have changed over the generations and if communities are not particularly tight-knit and members do not feel as if they should be compelled to support local businesses then they will make choices based on the services that different shops can provide. On the other hand, there are a number of disadvantages of these clone towns. Primarily there is the fear that small villages will lose part of their culture and heritage.
Regional diversity makes places interesting therefore if all of the UK becomes the same places will lose their individuality and the things which make them special. Even if there are local shops still open for business they will find it more difficult to survive as they lose their custom and because of their size it makes it difficult for them to compete with the larger brands. Furthermore, the majority of the favour towards the large stores is due to economic reasons and there are other factors to consider which relate to the community’s feelings and the local atmosphere.
Some small places can thrive off of the things which make them unique and by filling them with the same shops seen around the rest of the country they could actually lose money as they no longer have the income gained from tourism. As the large national chains grow in size they gain more control over the market and can therefore increase prices higher. If the local competition has been driven away individuals have no choice but to just accept what’s on offer at the chain stores.
If a large store also chooses to leave a small town it can leave members of the community without a place to shop for necessary items and lacking key amenities. In addition, the architecture and elements of the appearance of a town can be lost. Large chains focus greatly on branding with many of their stores having a uniform look which may often not fit the style of the rest of the buildings in a place and can sometimes be an eyesore and take away from the individuality of a place.
In conclusion, the changing structure of retail towns is contributing towards a loss of identity however there are many benefits of the arrival of many chain stores to these areas and it’s very difficult to satisfy everyone by keeping all of the local culture and still having cheap, convenient goods available. Despite the change in character of a town being perceived as entirely a bad thing by many, it can lead to some areas being redeveloped and improvements being made, whilst other more historic areas still remain intact.