HMV is closing its outlet in Stratford, east London, and moving into the new largest-in-Europe mall at Stratford City, owned Westfield. But HMV’s Simon Fox is complaining that shopping centres such as Westfield’s are killing off the traditional high street. My initial reaction is that he should have left his store in Stratford high street and watched business ebb away.
Personally I like Westfield’s malls, not just because they are invariably home to an Apple Store. Enclosed centres like these are ideal for the British climate and encourage people to visit even on the foulest of winter days. To my mind it is a quantum leap in comfort from getting frozen or drenched while moving from shop to shop.
Good high streets, full of restaurants and specialist stores, will always survive. Bad high streets with the same old chain stores (such as HMV) and boarded-up shopfronts will die. Maybe that’s the price of progress.
Mr Fox, though, should have more to worry about than the demise of the high street. His stores, bulging with CDs and DVDs are surely doomed, whether they remain in the high street or move to the latest mall. Like bookstore chains, they are under severe threat from online retailers and electronic media downloads. I would have thought that moving to Westfield is the least of his problems.
Diary Date: The new Straford City Apple Store opens in The Arcade, Westfield Mall, at 10 am on Tuesday, September 13. Just about every eastbound train and tube goes through Stratford.