Why are sweetshops not on the High Street anymore?
Where did they all go?
When I was running around in shorts (in the 1970s) our local sweetshop, ‘The Chocolate Box’, was at the end of our road. It wasn’t a big road, so even ‘The Chocolate Box’ was not on the high street at such… but so many high streets did feature at least one sweet shop and now they all seem to have gone.
If They Are Not On The High Street, Where Are They Now?
Sadly an awful lot of the tiny sweetshops have disappeared completely - both on and not on the High Street. A lot of their staple sources of income are a lot less popular today than they were when I was young. The name in the trade for these shops gives a clue to their sad demise… CTNs, or Confectioners, Tobacconists and Newsagents.
Sadly there isn’t much money to be made in penny chews, as the same suggests. It’s very hard to sustain a business selling sweets alone… unless you sell an awful lot of them. So the space where the confectionery used to be is frequently now taken up by more profitable products. And the selection of sweets is reduced to a small selection of items which are higher profit and easy to sell (the staples of Mars Bars, Snickers, Twix etc – you know the standard fayre!)
Back in the 1970s almost everyone seemed to smoke and so running a tobacconist, whether it was or was not on the high street, was a guaranteed source of income. Plus when people came into your shop to buy cigarettes or tobacco (when was the last time you saw someone smoking a pipe? or taking snuff?) they were more than likely to buy other things at the same time. Nowadays smoking is becoming less and less common and so this source of income is much reduced.
In the 1970s no-one could have possibly imagined the effect that the internet would have on day to day life. The sales of newspapers have been dramatically affected by the rise of the Web – far fewer people buy a daily paper than they did in the past, and fewer still have one delivered every day (like we used to, and so did pretty well everyone else!)
And as children we used to buy a comic every week too (I read Whizzer and Chips and my sister bought Twinkle… which I always thought was very unfair because it meant that she could read my comic when I’d finished with it, but I had no interest at all in her Twinkle. I think that was probably one the factors that hastened my switch to reading Shoot! My sister, Jane, was as interested in football as I was in girly fairy stories (or whatever stories Twinkle contained… probably lots about little girls with ponies I’d guess!)
Add to these factors the rise and rise of the supermarkets – not on the High Street but frequently on retail parks, dragging away custom from both the small corner shops and the High Street itself – and it is easy to see why small sweetshops have suffered so much over the years.
But many of the best sweets have survived even if the sweetshops have not, on the High Street or otherwise.
Not On The High Street, But Online
The internet undoubtedly contributed to the demise of the CTNs. But it has also brought the full range of retro sweets to a wider audience, both geographically and age-wise. No longer do you have to try to find a local sweetshop that is open, whether that be on or not on the High Street. Now retro sweet shops are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and they stock far more sweets than you could ever cram into an old-fashioned sweetshop. We have around 650 different sweets for you to choose from – sweets from all around the country, so it doesn’t matter where you live… in the UK or anywhere around the World even… you can choose Black Bullets from the North East of England, Kendal Mint Cake from the North West, a whole host of delicious Scottish sweets… Geography is no longer an issue – not on the High Street but on the information superhighway that is the World Wide Web!
So of course it’s sad that proper old fashioned sweetshops are fewer and farther between.
But every cloud has a silver lining and in many ways online sweetshops offer many advantages over their traditional counterparts, and because they are not on the High Street you don’t have to traipse through town to enjoy your favourites - you can have your sweet and eat it!.