Friday 29 July 2011

Up Next: The Americanized High Street?

I am growing more and more disturbed by something - no, its not the apparent final breakup of Cheryl and Ashley Cole, its not that Colleen Nolan is leaving Loose Women, its not even how Amy Winehouse's father is handing out her clothing to fans in front of her house - what has me disturbed is the influx of American stores and products to the UK market.

The first major introduction (or re-intoduction actually) was in June 2010 when Taco Bell opened at Lakeside. Americans all across the UK rejoiced and begged Taco Bell UK to come to their town, and I will admit "back then", I was rather happy about this and pledged to go ASAP (although I never actually went until last weekend and strangely enough, honestly, it wasnt very good). Then you started seeing Mountain Dew (albeit some icky energy drink version) in every store, then I discovered (with absolute delight and now incredible guilt at my delight) that Bucca Di Beppo has a few restaurants in the UK, then Forever 21 opened on Oxford Street and news broke today that William-Sonoma will be coming to London in early 2012 ... and now disturbia has set in...Where does it end??

What's wrong with what is already here? I don't want my High Street looking like an American shopping mall. I don't like the idea that something is "better" because it's American. I like embracing the British alternatives for things I used to enjoy and discovering new things to crave. I like going back to America and re-enjoying things I used to love with new vigor and appreciation. I've already lived in America; now I live here and I don't want it to try to be the same place.

Am I the only American expat who doesnt embrace the Americanization of her new country? Am I the only one who now wants to go buy cheap clothes at Primark, eat at Zizzis and buy some overpriced kitchen items at Harrods in protest of the new American options?

I'm afraid I probably am...


  1. Well, I am only an British expat, not an ex-expat, so I probably am not qualified to comment. But my feelings are mixed on the topic. As a coffee drinker, I actually welcomed the arrival of the coffee bars like Starbucks to British cities and towns, unlike some people. But I would agree that too many American or international brands is probably not a good thing. Although it can be reassuring ocassionally to go to another country and find a familiar brand, I generally appreciate something different.

  2. I don't like it either but it's ironic because my husband (UKC) and I (USC) moved back to the UK (Greater London) last August. One of the things we always used to moan about in the US was how every city's shopping was the same ... same old stores, same old shops. You could be in Orlando or Idaho Falls and basically you always found the same stores. It's the same here on the High Streets. It seems like in just the 6 years that we have been away from the UK, the High Streets have all become virtually the same. Damn boring!

  3. I think it depends on the situation; as an expat living in Kenya, I would welcome certain Americanizations in this country (except you, Walmart, stay away from Nakumatt!) just because it is so freakin expensive to import or even have care packages sent over with a few small essentials that aren't sold here. But in general, I agree. I want my Nairobi to be Kenyan, not a mini-Europe or America. That said, Taco Bell, you're still welcome to send a franchise here.

  4. Kate Spade and Coach already landed. Victoria Secret is on it's way! I do like 'TK Maxx' just something about the TK that makes it okay.

    p.s., Captain Awesome, I lived in Kenya and LOVED Nakumatt!!