Editorial: Buy local to keep shops in present

WARWICK RASMUSSEN
Last updated 12:00 11/12/2012

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OPINION: Predictions of the future are often way off the mark.

A generation ago we were told that we'd all be cruising around in flying cars, wearing quasi-futuristic outfits and having a pill that would remove the need for all meals.

Sadly, we are still wedded to the ground-hugging cars of last century, wearing clothes that look like they were from the previous generation and, in general, eating more than ever.

Of course you can't get it all right and it's fun to think of how our lives and the world will pan out.

With Christmas looming it has to be asked how long the tradition of Christmas shopping will last.

While we don't have to deal with snowfalls and freezing weather while we shop, we still have to deal with parking, queues and the stress of it all; not to mention the heat, traffic and a range of 21st century grumbles.

But before everyone decides to give up and start doing all of their shopping online there are a few things to consider.

Buying in your town or city's shops helps retain jobs and is good for the health of the wider community.

There will be cases where an online deal is unbeatable, so you'd be silly not to go for it.

But local retailers and suppliers need customers to survive, and most of that custom will come from people who live within a few kilometres away.

If you think through the fact that online shopping will increase at Christmas time at the expense of traditional retailers, the logical conclusion is that an increasing number of stores will continue to close.

And what will they be replaced with? What will CBDs become if retailers are squeezed out?

It's a real problem that needs to be addressed and everyone can play their part in making sure inner-city and downtown areas survive and thrive. Shoppers need to support them, councils need to create environments that attract and retain business, store owners need to be competitive and improve service and landlords need to be realistic about the rent they charge or the leases they sign.

This is an issue most places will have to grapple with. The ones that adapt will prosper, the ones that do nothing will simply disappear.

ONE MORE THING:

It was one of the best-attended Palmerston North City Council committee meetings you're ever likely to see.

Dozens of people filled the council chambers protesting the rules and enforcement of parking in the city.

Whether you signed the petition or not, it's a healthy sign when people take part in the democratic process and have their voices heard.

Only time will tell if the powers that be change their minds and listen to the petitioners or stick with the status quo.

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- Manawatu Standard

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