IT’S fair to say that when a charity shop announces it is moving into a town centre, the response can best be described as underwhelming.

At worst, it is often downright hostile.

Often, it’s fair to say, our expectations aren’t exactly realistic.

The chances of Primark, for example, moving into a cramped spot on the High Street are basically non-existent, but that doesn’t stop us wishing and feeling deflated when reality invades.

So the news that St Helena Hospice is looking to open up a second base in Halstead, having moved its existing home from the High Street to The Centre, may not be universally welcomed.

It is true to say that cut-price business rates for charities do help them land prime retail spots, but many small businesses also get similar support.

And as Jonathan Lidster of the Time Team says, such changes are merely a sign of the times.

Halstead High Street is relatively thriving.

Empty shopfronts are few and far between, and our independent businesses are the envy of market towns up and down the country.

But it must adapt. More coffee shops and restaurants are opening up in town and city centres because that’s what shoppers are demanding.

Popping into a town centre is becoming more of a social experience, where you trawl the stores such as charity shops for a bargain before enjoying a cuppa or a bite to eat.

Special events help, and we trust May’s inaugural food festival will do its bit to ensure Halstead remains thriving.