Re: @mark 63
> Sensible and even enjoyable shopping is about more than just an inadequate catalogue on some American site and wating for delivery.
But it's the websites that have the excellent catalogue; it's the high street shops that don't have half of what their firms supposedly sell in stock.
> Some things, even for utilitarian shopping, need direct contact and trial, e.g. shoes and clothng, how does that computer screen or keyboard feel or the fan sound?
Which is precisely why in the UK we have distance selling regulations, which are actually very sensible and work well.
I buy most stuff online now, but yes, some things need that hands-on experience -- the main one being glasses. And, lo and behold, opticians are one of the types of bricks-and-mortar store that seem to be doing perfectly well.
Shoes, though... well, yes, it's nice to try them on before buying. But I have size 12 feet. Despite humans in this country getting taller and taller for my entire life, every high-street shoe shop still has only two policies regarding size 12. One: buy just one pair or size 12s and don't restock when someone buys them. Two: ask the customer if they'll try size 11 instead. I got into the habit of not even browsing, it was so dispiriting. Instead, I'd go into a shoe shop, approach the first member of staff, and say "Can you please show me which styles you have available in size 12?" They could then show me the two crappy pairs of clown shoes they had and I could leave. Mind you, a lot of them couldn't even answer the question, their stock management was so shite. Buying shoes from Amazon or Surfdome is sheer unadulterated paradise in comparison. Shoe shops are near the top of the list of firms that have killed themselves.
> Towns can, and sometimes are, also an aesthetic and social experience. Or do you imagine just a line of tea shops, restaurants and pubs ...
You appear to be implying that tea shops, restaurants, and pubs provide neither aesthetic nor social experiences.
> ... while all the money that should be spent in them goes to some Amazon off-shore tax paradise on its way to USA?
What, because it's spent in a pub? What on Earth are you on about?
> Or perhaps you really do exist just to consume as efficiently as possible.
What's the problem with efficiency? In days of yore, our grandmothers used to do the shopping by wandering into at least five different shops every day, and no doubt having a nice chat with the shopkeeper. All very nice, and no doubt aesthetic and social, and doable if you're a full-time housewife. Going to one big supermarket that sells everything you need in one go is efficient, yes, in that it is doable for those of us who don't live in 1956 and have full-time jobs and overtime and kids. We can even go to Tesco after work, whilst the quaint little high-street shops close as soon as we get out of work, presumably because they're run by business geniuses.
> As for the difficulties of access in towns: abandoning them is not the answer.
What Tim actually suggested was converting shops into houses, so that people could live in them. How on Earth does living in an area equate to abandoning it?
> Despite all the talk, successful towns are still busy with shoppers browsing books and music in book and music shops, examining and buying food in markets and food shops witht the possibility of discussing new items that one would hardly do on the on line shopping pages.
Music shops? Are you serious?
And people do discuss products online, all the time. In these very forums, for a start.
> But towns have served well for thousands of years for a reason
Not with shopping high streets, they haven't. That's quite a recent innovation. A lot of these precious high streets that must never be lost are in fact rows of converted houses. Why shouldn't they be converted back again?