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Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 1

Good News from the High Street

You maybe know that part of our remit at Transition Dundee is to do what we can to make Dundee a more sustainable, healthier and happier place to live.

We believe we can do this by making everyone feel part of their local community and we believe that an important factor in this is shopping locally. We passionately believe in the importance of small, local and independent shops and the value they bring to our lives. There are so many advantages to popping in :

· It’s convenient

· It’s better for the environment as it reduces your carbon footprint

· You support these local businesses

· You invest in your community

· The money you spend tends to stay in your community

· It creates local jobs

· You are likely to get quality products and personal service

So we’re cheerful today because – in a surprising twist to the general tale of woe regarding our town centres – the number of independent bookshops in the UK and Ireland climbed to a 10-year high in 2022. Yes, the book trade defied the odds in an otherwise dreadful year for high street retailers.

According to the Booksellers Association, there are now 1,072 independent bookshops, up from 867 in 2016.

We can easily imagine that lockdowns were good news for the book trade as people read more simply because they had more time. What is wonderfully encouraging to know is that these readers actively sought out bookshops when they re-opened.

Not only did people flock back to existing bookshops, an astonishing number of new shops have opened in the last year.

Bookshops generally have very similar values to ours. They are sociable places, where the owners and staff really want to connect with their customers. They want to build relationships with them and with their suppliers. Many are branching out to offer teas and coffees, events, subscription services …… and they are always attractive, welcoming spaces.

We are writing this blog to highlight good news and in praise of small, local bookshops, but we really must take this opportunity to remind you that at the Wardrobe we sell a small, but carefully curated, selection of new books, all of them on the theme of sustainability and looking after our planet.

What fun we have choosing which titles to stock.

We see these as a valuable source of encouragement to our customers to further their own sustainable journey, and we also hope they may buy them as a gift to inspire their friends or family to get on board. And, of course, the income generated by our books helps us to keep our project going.

So while we encourage you to visit bookshops to browse, chat and generally find out what’s new, we would also encourage you to do the same with us. Next time you are in, take a little time to look at what we have on offer and please feel free to suggest any new topics you think we should be looking for when we place our next order. (We should just mention here that we order from a small Scottish family-owned publisher that has an admirable green policy.)

There are now 1,072 independent bookshops after the industry enjoyed a sixth consecutive year of growth, according to the Booksellers Association (BA). The resurgence followed a 20-year losing streak in which bookshop numbers sank to a nadir of 867 in 2016.

Meryl Halls, the BA’s managing director, said the independent book store revival “confirms that bookshops are crucially important – and valued – parts of our high street communities”.

A recent report by the Centre for Retail Research described 2022 as a “brutal” one for Britain’s retail sector, with more shops shutting down than at any other point in the last five years. About 47 shops on average closed every day last year. It found a total of 17,145 shops on high streets and in other locations closed for good over the course of 2022


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