Ten years ago today (6th April 2011) I put up my very first post on this blog. My intention was really two fold. First I wanted to have a place to collect and publicise retail things so as to avoid having to repeat myself about basic and core things to journalists and others. Secondly, knowing that I was about to enter a prolonged period of university administration. I wanted a forum to comment on retail matters and have a ‘voice’ as academic articles were likely to be out of the question.
Others can judge whether the blog is worth it to them, but for me it has been that different outlet and has been very enjoyable to do. It hasn’t stopped the obvious phone calls but I have been able to link it to my academic and policy work, which seems to have staggered on despite other distractions. The style/theme may have dated and some sections are now underpopulated but it is attracting record numbers of visitors.
Birthdays are about looking back and looking forward. So I thought I would look back at April 2011.
April 2011 saw four posts published and it is interesting to look at the topics
- Small shops and convenience retailing
- Any hope for Scotland’s town centres
- Scottish retail sales – hitting the bottom or still in freefall
- Scotland’s shops and shopfronts
So, if you look at themes on the blog recently, then not much has changed in a decade. I am still working on convenience retailing (which has grown strongly over the period and during the pandemic – and who thought about the latter in 2011?) and on town centres. Retail shopfronts and history remain fascinating. Retail sales likewise are still facing the same question, but in the last twelve months with a lockdown pandemic dynamic and urgency.
The top three read posts for all of 2011 reflect emerging issues of the time. The top post was on the opening of Waitrose in Stirling – on the site of the Stirling Miner’s Welfare, so as I remarked at the time a sort of symbolic shifting of our times. The second most read post was on the state of British retailing from the topics covered at the Annual BRC Conference – the lead issues were multichannel, the ongoing Portas review and retail regulation. And the third top post was my realisation that despite stagnating market share (and not many were saying that), Tesco were still #1 in the UK and had been for the entire life of our first year undergraduates – they had never known any difference. Ten years on they still hold that spot of course, making them British largest food retailer for almost 30 years and something that still concerns some.
The symmetry of topics between then and now is either disturbing (has so little changed in our concerns about retail) or reflective of the reality (retail continues to confront and adapt to systemic change). It could be both of course, but I will leave you to judge. Will the same topics be in the front of our minds in 2031?
Anyhow, 10 years more – or not? I am not sure I thought it would last for that long, so who knows how much longer it is worthwhile and interesting (to do and to read).