Is high street set to disappear? – Hayley Matthews

As high street retailers announce job cuts, Hayley Matthews fears the Covid crisis will only accelerate the trend towards a cashless, online society.
Boots is consulting on a plan to cut thousands of jobs and close some of its opticians (Picture: Ben Stansall/AFP via Getty Images)Boots is consulting on a plan to cut thousands of jobs and close some of its opticians (Picture: Ben Stansall/AFP via Getty Images)
Boots is consulting on a plan to cut thousands of jobs and close some of its opticians (Picture: Ben Stansall/AFP via Getty Images)

The business casualties of the dreaded coronavirus are just starting to show and, with the very sad news that Boots is considering closing some of its opticians, it seems it’s just the start of worse things to come for the high street.

I have fond memories of Boots as a wee yin with my Grandad Matthews always taking a trip up the town on a Saturday morning to get his essentials (cod liver oil, tirozets, athletes foot cream and a tube of TCP) – it was what Saturdays were for.

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When I’d go round on a Saturday, I’d always get a wee “carry out” as he’d call it and it would be in a Boots carrier bag, you know the wee flimsy kind that we don’t get any more, the kind of bag that the checkout staff put your whole chicken or packet of prawns in when you’re at the supermarket.

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Anyway, my carry out would have in it: one tube of smarties, one mandarin and a 50 pence piece. Never in small change, always, always, always, a 50p piece.

I also keep up the tradition of going to Boots on a Saturday to get my essentials and I often think of my wee Grandad Thomas Matthews, wandering round taking ages (it’s a Matthews thing – we take AGES in shops!) so please don’t close our stores.

It’s part of our history and soon it will all be online if things keep going this way.

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Where does it end? A cashless society where only digital is recognised and there’s no high street left. Sad times indeed.

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