On the High Street. In praise of John Harris

Old Hands on LSS will recall our concern for the good Old High Street, that parade of shops in the middle of our town where so much shopping and other social life used to be done. And now on the same topic along comes John Harris of the Guardian, a man beside whom our own efforts are puny indeed.

John has done some of the most refreshing journalism of the last ten years in the UK. In his series Anywhere but Westminster, he and John Domotkos roamed the depressed and fading post industrial landscape of Britain, and recording the voices of its despairing inhabitants. In effect, they saw Brexit(and many other things) coming; try to catch the podcasts if you can still find them. Their very achievement depended on a High Street to interview people in. Now the very existence of the vox pop is in question. And for Harris, the Villain is Jeff Bezos and his mighty Amazon organisation.

I will not spoil the piece* for you, except to point out that Amazon is now worth $1.49 trillion. E- commerce now accounts for 44% of all shopping in the US and 30% in the UK. Harris waxes lyrical on the efforts of those who criticise Amazon, and want to break it up. There is even a link to a blogpost by a disgruntled former employee*

But….the essence of Harris is to always give both sides, just as he did in the Brexit debate. And so he quotes from Bezos himself

The only real constant in retail is customers’ desire for lower prices, better selection, and convenience,” Bezos told his questioners on Capitol Hill. Herein lies what is propelling us into the future, from Seattle to post-industrial Scotland: supply meeting demand.

In other words, Amazon is growing big because most of us want it to. Like Microsoft before it. And ESSO before that. And Ford before that. We want other people to shop in the High Street,so we have somewhere to buy coffee, but we are damned if we do it. And one other thing. We at LSS consider the Amazon Kindle and the library in our pocket thereby afforded, as one of the finest aids to civilisation yet devised.



#johnharris #guardian #amazon #jeffbezos #Highstreet

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