The future rarely works out exactly as we expect. For some time now it’s been received wisdom that the High Street is literally, on its last legs, and at some point soon we will finally put the knife to any urge we may have to actually go (physically) shopping, and let our fingers do the walking instead on the iPad keyboard.
The truth is, as always, rather different.While shopping online is quick, convenient, and often offers more choice, it doesn’t match the personal experience that a great shop sales team can deliver. On page 32 of this edition, the new Chief Executive of the Jersey Retail Association puts it slightly differently; Lorie Rault describes it as “theatre”, and she believes that is what will keep the High Street a healthy place for those retailers who can invest in the experience they offer to customers.
Her view is that shopping is not just a functional activity we do when we need something; the act of shopping is a sociable one in itself, and one which islanders should continue to enjoy, whatever technological developments are offered to our finger-tips.
Elsewhere in this edition of Connect you’ll find an islander who argues that those sorts of personal experiences are exactly what technology should be offering, and he is on a mission to make them happen in the world of virtual reality.
You can read Tim McGuinness’s story on page 44 - whether it is stepping back250,000 years to explore La Cotte in St.Brelade, competing in e-sports, or watching a World Cup game from inside the stadium without leaving Jersey, he is constructing worlds which are intended to be even better than our own - virtually.
It’s possible that in years to come you will have the choice of actually walking downKing Street for real, chatting to the sales staff and touching the goods before you buy - or doing something similar, but not actually real,without getting up off the sofa.Which would you prefer?
One experience which is difficult to replicate virtually is the subject of our main feature, on page 4 - Café Culture; not the big-name brands, this month we take a look at some of the small, independent venues opening up, trading on our current preferences for ethically-sourced, healthy, refreshment.
So, the choice is yours - actual experiencesor virtual choice, opportunities and convenience? Whether you are holding a hard copy of Connect in your hands, or reading this online, we’ll help you decide.