Category Archives: Christmas

Do digital and online mean the end of the high street?

I’ve long been a big fan of digital content – in all its forms – and how it’s changing our lives for the better.  More choice, more variety, better (read cheaper) prices and convenience.  It’s all about the anytime, anywhere and anyhow philosophy – with us consumers far more in control of when, where and how we consume.  But, this clearly has an impact on the more traditional world of content in its physical form.  And also drives our retail experiences – beyond simple content.

Digital media and content

Some interesting questions come up…

  1. Can digital/online and physical/traditional retail co-exist peacefully?  Yes they can.
  2. What about our traditional high street shops?  We need them but they need to change.
  3. Should we all buy online?  A good question!

It’s not just about digital content – going online for content ultimately impacts my other retail experiences and drives me to the same retail channels, online, for other products.

It’s number 3 that right now is the big one.  In the UK we’ve seen some major high street shops go under recently – or change hands and scale down.  Including – Game, Jessops, Comet and HMV.  Some with years and years of history going right back to when consumers started listening to and consuming content (and buying products).

Consumers

So why are they struggling?  I think it’s quite simple – a reluctance to change and move with what consumers want (all of the above in the introductory paragraph).  Cheaper prices, more choice and one not mentioned above better service.

This last one is important and maybe something not considered as much as it should be.  Good service – or even excellent service (of which I’m a huge fan) – is crucial to build relationships with your customers and get them back and get the all important repeat business going.  Just look at how Amazon do customer service.  No quibbles when taking items back – fantastic return policies – and people to help when you need it, however you want to contact them (not waiting round for someone who might not be the right person to help).

Customer service

Another big plus online is the whole idea of reviews – from consumers just like you, telling you exactly what they think of the item, good or bad.  This helps you make your decisions.

Your typical high street shops now are used more for browsing – and people then compare prices with online retailers, go away and order online for it to be delivered a couple of days later.  Sure there are some purchases that don’t make sense to do this way but more people are going this way.  And yes I’m one of them.  How can I justify a book in one of the few remaining high street shops, when online (and by online I mean Amazon) it’s half price (with great service and quick delivery) – there just isn’t any competition.

Traditional UK high street

I can shop when I want and even when mobile.  It’s all so convenient.

Everyone talks about how much of their Christmas shopping these days is done online and typically this means Amazon.

It’s another post about whether Amazon’s business models (pricing) are sustainable or not for them – but so far it’s working and their bottom line is healthy (now)!

So now to the crunch question – is there still a place for the traditional high street?  I think there is.  A lot of change is needed and retailers need to embrace online and digital as well as their traditional retail arms.  This is critical.  If they don’t – and don’t do it quickly, they’ll sadly go the same way as others.

For us consumers, it’s an exciting time but will be a sad one as well if we lose well known names from the high street.

It’s time to change!

It's time for change

2012 – London’s year

That’s 2011 finished and a week since Christmas.  Despite late starting with running last week – with Christmas Day and Christmas food getting in the way – I picked up and did 20 miles over 3 runs.  Last run just before lunch on New Years Eve – 4 miles at just better than 7 minutes 15 seconds per mile (a nice pace).  And a new last run of 2011.

The serious marathon training starts now with the mileage picking up fast.  25 miles planned over 4 runs this coming week.  Still need to think about 3 or 4 or even 5 runs a week and what the optimum number is.  A bit more research and thinking needed.

130 ish miles done in December.  And all at around the planned marathon pace – getting used to running at that pace, so the plan may be working!  Longer ones needed now to make sure I can hold it.

2012 promises to be an amazing year for London – the London Marathon in April, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in June and then the London 2012 Olympics over the summer.

The London New Year’s Eve fireworks set the bar last night showing what London can do and what the celebrations this year will be like.  An awesome display last night and absolutely now best in the world.  11 minutes long and costing a bargain £2 million – click here to see the full video on the BBC News web site – it’s very impressive.  Could be seen and heard all the way from Twickenham where we are.

A very Happy New Year to you and here’s to 2012 bringing everything you wish and hope for, and more.

Too many mince pies

First run today for 6 days and didn’t feel good.  10 miles but very slow – 8 minutes slower than last 10 miler along the same route.  Pace almost 45 seconds per mile slower.

That would put me a mile behind me last week on the same route – rubbish really.

Things different today?

  • Early run – started at 7:40am (recent ones have been around 11am)
  • Not run for 6 days – normally max. 2 days between runs
  • Too many mince pies over Christmas (and turkey curry last night)
  • Slow starting pace

So are these excuses or genuine reasons why I was slower?  Good question.  The slower starting pace is the real killer – if you don’t feel good when you go and you naturally start off a bit slower, it’s very hard to pick up (as mentioned before).  Starting pace was about 8:02 but I then slowed down over the run – which is even worse!

The Christmas dinners and the usual excess of food and drink over the Christmas period may have affected the run – it does make a huge difference when running when full (or after a heavy meal the night before – or 5 nights before over Christmas) – but all worth it and we had a lovely Christmas.  Very much a family occasion for us and spent with grandparents and auntie and cousins.  And of course Father Christmas made his appearance on Christmas Eve and was caught on Noble CCTV coming down the chimney delivering presents.  Ho ho ho!

Let it (virtually) snow

In the absence of real snow, we have the virtual alternative.  Watch this page slowly and you’ll see “snowflakes” falling across it after a few seconds – the wonders of clever technology (thanks to WordPress).  On a similar thread, Google have their own little snowy themed “Easter Egg” this year.  Go to the main Google page, type in “let it snow” – without the “” – and click search.  Snow starts to fall across your screen and after a while it frosts up and a new defrost button appears.  Have never understood how someone has the time to develop these and why.  Maybe I need to read a bit more about them – by clicking on the link above.  I’m sure there’s some logic behind them somewhere.

A white Christmas in London this year?  Probably not – no sign still of the arctic winter that was predicted.  Though little Mr. Noble has now had 2 snowy Christmas times – not on Christmas Day specifically but around then – out of the 2 he’s had in total.  His 3rd this year.

Could it be any easier?

Don’t forget, all the marathon training is to help support the great work that the guys at Whizz-Kidz do, helping disabled children become more mobile.  The clip below from their web-site gives some details on the work they do – please have a read:

These guys have several hundred runners in the London Marathon raising money for them and it is their biggest fund raising event of the year.  They also really help support the runners whilst fund raising with marathon training sessions, regular newsletters and getting people involved in other activities (e.g. Christmas carols).  Some pics below from the Christmas carols at Fulham Broadway shopping centre last weekend.  We went along after the carols at the Royal Albert Hall and sung some more for another couple of hours. The guys from Whizz-Kidz were there from 10am until 7pm with their running volunteers coming along for 2 hour sessions throughout the day and we raised almost £1,400.

The little Nobles and Nic also helped out with mum and dad coming along for a little bit as well.

So could what be any easier?  Donating.  With the wonders of modern technology – and the services from Just Giving all you need to do is send a quick text message (care of a cool new service set up with Vodafone) from your mobile with the amount you would like to donate to 70070 and the code VCKN89.  You receive a text message receipt from them and can even tick a box to allow Whizz-Kidz to get back Gift Aid from HMRC.

Don’t buy that extra 1/2 pint at the pub – please send a quick text message and help make a real difference to these children’s lives.

Where’s the snow this year?

None to write home about this year, yet.  Lots last year though – at the beginning and end of the year.  Some of the pics we took below that I like…

[slideshow]

The UK daily tabloids – the Daily Express in particular – keep predicting arctic conditions to come every week (for about the last 4 weeks) with blizzards everywhere.

A white Christmas in 2011 in London?  Unlikely.

2 minutes faster

Another good running week last week.  10 miles on Monday, followed by 1/2 marathon on Wednesday (over 2 minutes faster than my last Royal Parks Foundation 1/2 time in October) and then an even quicker 10 miles on Friday (40 seconds faster than Monday).  Speed work is definitely paying off – though need to ease off for a bit now and increase mileage.  Still over 5 months to go until the big day in April.

Pace is king in my world now.  And it’s absolutely about setting your initial pace right.  Too slow and you’ll never pick it up.  Too fast and you’ll fatigue too early and slow down dramatically in the latter part of the run.  So yes, it’s a very fine balance.  It’s also what you mentally set as your planned pace.  I like setting it faster and then coming in just over that.  Last 10 miler this week was great.  Back from good old Tumble Tots – where little Mr. Noble had done some tumbling, rolling, climbing and jumping – and through Bushy Park (and back dodging some huge stag that look very mean).  Again managed to pick up my face in the last 1 mile or so, with a nice finish.

Talking of Bushy Park, the Parkruns there continue to amaze me – 840+ runners last weekend.  Unless you know about it, you’d never realise that there are over 800 people meeting up for a fun 5km run first thing on a Saturday.  Very cool.  And I’ve said before, definitely need to get back and do some more.  Definitely helps with speed.

But multi-layered?  Oh yes, it’s that time of the year – cold and frosty.  Running gloves and hat on and then a number of layers on me to keep warm.  Still in the shorts though!  Amazingly, however cold it is, as long as I’ve got gloves and hat on (to cover the exposed bits) within a few miles you’re nice and warm and the odd cold gust isn’t a problem.  If the weather forecasts are to be believed – minus a big number and arctic conditions – the layers will be going up even more.

And a great running week finished off with carols at the Royal Albert Hall in London – an official Noble Christmas tradition.  With some more carols helping raise money for Whizz-Kidz in the evening.  Now it feels even more like Christmas.

Thankfully no major downpour of snow this year, like last year when we almost didn’t get to the Royal Albert Hall and in actual fact about half the people were unable to get there due to bad weather.

3 easier runs this week with one long one and a trip to Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park.