Over the last couple of months I have produced on this blog a range of pieces around retailing, shopping and the coronavirus pandemic. There will no doubt be more to be said as the situation develops.
One of these pieces – What should we value about retailing and towns and what should we do about them – attracted a fair degree of attention in a variety of places. The piece was a call for more radical thinking around the future for towns and high streets: essentially a plea not to go back to how we were, but instead to carve out the economy and society that we want (and need) and to be inclusive and community focused rather than distant transactional and extractive as so many of our places have become. The original post has been re-blogged and altered for use in various sources and outlets.
At the University of Stirling, we are proud that much of our research has a public policy focus. We have created a public policy blog to present, from across the University, this research and thought leadership on policy. As part of our reaction to the pandemic, we are now producing podcasts from various of our academics on their specialist area and the implications of COVID-19, raising questions and policy implications.
I was asked to contribute to the series, and my podcast is available via as part of the lecture series and directly here. I have taken this opportunity to expand on and repurpose much of the recent material in this blog and build on a presentation I gave at an Institute of Place Management Webinar a few weeks ago (for the delegates, I promised to post the presentation and this podcast is that). A full transcript of the podcast can be downloaded here (Transcript of Podcast May 2020).
Some of this work was also the subject of a podcast discussion I did with David Jamieson for Source.scot, a couple of weeks ago. This interview was a part of a feature entitled “Retail behomoth: are we witnessing the birth of a savage new business age”. My interview (“Beyond the noise: how the crisis is transforming the retail sector”) ranges widely over retail change, the impact of the virus on the sector and what we want to come out of this period for towns and retailing and can be listened to here.
There will be much more to be said about the longer term impact of the pandemic on retailing and shopping. I doubt we can yet begin to really see what the potential disruption will be like. We can though start to anticipate the type of future we want and try to work out the steps to get there. This is ever more important if we are not to simply go back to the (failed) ways of doing things.