I am a sucker for a gadget. If it has bluetooth or is spring-loaded in some way, I want it. I recently spent a frankly stupid amount of money on a pair of wireless headphones. But as much as I love tech, I can’t remember the last time I was in a tech shop; I just go online and get everything delivered. Technology has got to such a point that we don’t even need to go shopping in order to shop anymore.
This behaviour en masse is what led to the collapse of the technology chain Maplin and it is not alone, with big names such as Jaeger, Agent Provocateur and Jones the Bootmaker among the chains going bust last year.
Non-food related businesses find themselves in the most trouble, particularly those selling novelty or luxury items, like (Apple’s wireless headphones). People, like myself, would rather type the name of the thing they want into Amazon (other online shopping outlets are available) and have it delivered.
Fashion sales are among the worst hit in this respect with one study showing as high as 20 per cent moving to online in the last 10 years.
The past few months alone have seen a stream of collapses – from fashion store East to shoe chain Shoon and bed specialists Warren Evans and Feather and Black. Toys R Us is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, while House of Fraser, Debenhams and New Look are all struggling, with all three considering large-scale closures of stores or space.
And those nervous about opening a traditional retail outlet in these newly vacated spaces are justified in their apprehension. But these prime locations need to be used and the smart money would be on filling them with the kinds of things that people can’t get in their homes and, as it happens, that is just what the out-of-home entertainment sector is good at. I can’t remember the last time I was in a tech shop, but I can vividly recall being at Junkyard Golf, a bar/mini golf site in InterGame’s native Manchester, UK, with some friends last month and going bowling with my family when I last visited home.
So while growth in technology has often been more of a hindrance than a help for the industry of late (allowing the home entertainment to grow exponentially) it may well prove itself indirectly invaluable on this occasion. We can expect to see a lot more ping-pong bars, redemption FECs, trampoline parks, arcade bars, indoor golf, climbing walls, escape rooms and virtual reality arcades in place of out-dated outlets.
Larger spaced attractions like mini golf and dynamic escape rooms haven’t been quite as prominent in the UK as other countries but this may well be about to change. A future where every conceivable product or gadget can be delivered at the click of a button is firmly within the parameters of possibility, but it’s a lot harder to deliver fun by post…