Peter Williams: ‘The pressure is on for fewer but better stores’

Peter Williams

After the experience of the last 10 months, do we really need shops any more? Perhaps we should start by reflecting on how they were created and why we started going to them in the first place. 

Centuries ago, every city and large town had a square: a place to meet for commerce and social interaction. The square was bordered on each side by buildings that provided somewhere to pray (church), learn (school) and be ruled by (government). 

On the fourth side of the square was the market – a bustling space for commerce – which, in those sadly long-forgotten days when we could travel freely, was always on our ‘must-visit’ list because of the connection with the locale and its vibrancy and colour.

Over time, the market was covered over to shield shoppers from the elements, creating the shopping arcade, and then the greatest store of all emerged: the department store. 

Subscription content

Please sign in now if you have a subscription or are already registered with us.

Retail Week

Register for free to continue reading provides premium, in-depth intelligence that helps retailers judge risks, spot opportunities and identify what they need to do to win in the digital economy.

Register today for a taste of our high-quality intelligence and enjoy:

  • Two free article views per calendar month on
  • Detailed analysis of current trends and events 
  • Exclusive newsletters
  • In-depth reports, videos, interviews and much more

Discover Retail Week register now

Please note, if you have recently purchased a subscription, it may take a few minutes before your account is updated.