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Reading is a "near-perfect clone town" – but is this a good thing?

I read two interesting things about Reading recently:

In Hick Baker’s ‘Development and Investment Review 2009’, they describe how Reading ranks very highly in many measures of economic success, including topping the table for UK towns for predicted annual growth from 2010 to 2026, at 3.5 Gross Value Added (GVA).

I recently read a book called Tescopoly, about the divisive effect of big supermarkets and shopping chains on our society and local economies. The author notes that Reading has been described by a local newspaper (Evening Post?) as “a near-perfect clone town”. This means that its town centre is made up mainly of chain stores and franchises with no local character or distinctive features.

Are these two facts linked? If there is such a strong correlation between ‘economic success’ and the blandification of a place, then I think we are measuring the wrong thing when we look at GVA and GDP. If a more enlightened measure is used such as Gross National Happiness (GNH), which takes a broader view of life, we would all be better off in the long term.

I think this should also be borne in mind when developing and E-Mything your own business. Yes, it is great to have systems that deliver a consistently high quality customer service, BUT not at the expense of de-humanising the whole experience for your team and customers.

Enjoy your Christmas shopping!

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