On my way back from Birmingham recently I stopped off at the services to grab a coffee and stretch the legs.
As I walked around the services with WHSmith, Costa, Krispy Kreme, Starbucks, Burger King, KFC… it occurred to me how much motorway service stations have changed. You can also find Waitrose and Marks & Spencers at some too.
Motorway services have become mini malls and tiny high streets with familiar names. Obviously to entice drivers in and with a familiar name probably have the confidence to buy something… It would appear that the more you have heard of something, the more likely you are to buy from it.
It wasn’t that long ago that motorway services were brands in their own right, Granada (that became Moto), Welcome Break and so on… within their confined walls were unknown brands of coffee and fast foods as well as the main “canteen” style cafeteria.
Big brands started to make inroads into the services and these must have worked as now the services are awash with familiar names from the high street.
Of course the same is happening with our local shops, Tesco Metro, Sainsbury Local are now our corner shops and in many cases are on our local high streets (as well as their big edge of town stores).
When our local shopping centre expanded and a rank of smaller shops were made available next to the Morrisons, Boots and Matalan; I know i hoped for an independent baker, butcher and candlestick maker. What we got was Costa, Subway, Dominos and a Sue Ryder charity shop!
The sad thing is that, we in survey after survey, indicate how much we like our local shops and despair when they get “eaten up” by large chains. The reality is that as a society we say one thing and then go and do something else. We like the idea of local and independent store, but prefer to shop at the familiar.