Remember when you could spend a whole day high street shopping? Keen-eyed bargain hunters would be out in their droves, comparing products and prices between one store and another, then stopping for a department-store coffee to ponder what they might eventually plump for. Nowadays, you can pretty much buy everything you need under one roof in an out-of-town hypermarket, and the high street has more estate agents, nail bars or empty units than thriving stores. See how many of our fave high street shops you remember...
Whatever you were looking for on the high street – whether you were getting kitted out for a party or planning a skiing trip – you could find it in C&A at a reasonable price. OK, it was never regarded as cutting-edge when it came to fashion but, if all else failed, out of all the high street shops, C&A would see you right. And it was top for fun jimjams and slippers, too!
Part of the fun of a shopping day was renting a movie on the way home. Browsing the video shop was like going to the library, except they played movies or music while you chose, you didn’t have to tiptoe around the place and everything was a whole lot easier to find! Plus, you could stock up on popcorn, fizzy drinks, chocolate and ice cream – usually on BOGOF offers – for a really indulgent night in. Today, it can take hours to find just the right film to stream from a movie channel – it’s not the same thrilling experience it used to be.
Now, this was considered the shoe mecca for teenagers and twenty-somethings. You’d be the envy of your mates if you were seen sporting the latest foot fashions from the slightly upmarket store, especially if you’d visited the uber-cool Carnaby Street branch (pictured) to buy them! There isn’t really an equivalent nowadays amongst high street shops, with most people buying shoes from clothes stores or online instead. Not the same…
Ahhh, good old Woolies – purveyors of almost everything, including the always-cute Ladybird kids’ clothing. Who didn’t have crockery/glassware/tea towels/cutlery from this time-honoured high street shop? Only the really posh kids or the ones whose mums had saved up Co-op or petrol-station vouchers to get their fancy sets of homeware. (And hands up anyone who’s ever snuck a cheeky chew from the pick’n’mix… Go on, you know you did!)
5. Happy Eater
OK, not so much a high street shop – but, on the way to or from your shopping day out, it was the icing on the cake to eat out in one of these tempting roadside diners. From a full English before you hit the high street to fish’n’chips on your way home, they offered all the favourite cafe staples. The chain was bought out by Granada in the 1995, and the restaurants were converted into Little Chefs, with the last Happy Eater becoming no more than a memory in 1997.
Those who couldn’t stretch to Ravel went to Dolcis or Freeman Hardy Willis (another high street shoe brand that disappeared in 1996). It was still trendy enough to beat buying your footwear at British Home Stores (now Bhs), but at more affordable prices. Only thing was, the chances were your best mate would be sporting the same new shoes as you. D’oh!
Oh dear! It was the kiss of death for the popular high street shop when, in 1991, Gerald Ratner, when trying to explain how he kept his jewellery and silverware prices so low, declared that it was ‘because it’s total cr*p’! Now, there’s a sure-fire way to put yourself out of business. The Ratners brand disappeared from the high street in 1993 after the group was taken over. As for the hapless Gerald? Well, these days he runs an online jewellery business called Gerald Online…