A shadow of its vibrant heyday

Peter Flynn

Monday, 19th November 2018, 6:10 am
Updated Monday, 19th November 2018, 6:19 am
Shoppers in Fargate enjoying the sunshine - 2nd June 1978 Sun Summer

Hillsborough, S6

It's no secret that the High Street is in serious decline. And whether you blame it on the internet, Brexit or Donald Trump, a stroll down your local town centre tells the painful truth.

And what makes matters worse, it's never going to recover. As the big anchor stores like BHS, M&S and House of Fraser close down or reduce their outlets, so do the smaller shops that feed off them.

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Online shopping is here to stay, and it's a service that will continue to hurt the bricks and mortar shops.

But the shopping decline is not something new; some of us will remember retail giants like C&A, MFI and Woolworths, all of who are now just distant memories.  I remember when the Sheffield city centre started at the Wicker arches. You could walk amongst the shopping masses past the many pubs, shops and restaurants on the way up to Castle Market, through Haymarket, Fitzalan Square until you met up with more coming from Snig Hill and Angel Street and meet at the Hole in the Road.

All that has gone. Now, city centre shopping only really starts at the bottom of Fargate and ends at the Moor; just a shadow of its vibrant heyday.  Our city leaders should stop trying to appease us by painting empty shop windows with pretty pictures to give the impression that something nice and new is about to arrive, and instead should redesign the town centre to a more compacted scale.

And as it gets smaller, perhaps we will see more shopping malls for the touchy-feely retail therapist, where they have everything under one roof, plenty of free parking and they feel safe.

Which would also be an advantage for the car-driving shopper who is sick and tired of finding it ever more difficult to get in and out of town, then getting charged the earth to park, if they can actually find a space that is.  As for the rows of vacant shops, I'm sure there are developers queuing up to convert them into more 'luxury apartments' we so dearly need.