FOR me, Frasers means Christmas. One of my earliest memories is being taken to the department store on Buchanan Street by my grandmother to see the Christmas tree.

And 40 years on the store still plays a significant role in my festive rituals. Christmas shopping would be frankly unimaginable without the Frasers lights, tree and fragrance hall bustle. I don’t doubt that the store holds a similarly special place in the hearts of many Glaswegians.

And thankfully it seems the company’s flagship Glasgow store, which has occupied the same site for 170 years, will escape the brutal cull of 31 others that boss Alex Williamson believes is the only way to save the company. Edinburgh’s Princes Street store, with the famous clock under which thousands of courting couples met and fell in love over the years, won’t be so lucky if his plan gets the go-ahead from creditors. Neither will the thousands of retail workers up and down the UK, from Cardiff to Hull, Grimsby to Wolverhampton, who will lose their livelihoods.

What went wrong for this once-great Scottish brand - it is currently owned by a Chinese conglomerate - a company that until 1985 had Harrods in its stable of stores, is revealed to be a sorry tale that contains elements familiar to most failing high street stores: a potentially deadly mix of competition from the internet and out of town shopping centres, high rents and whopping property upkeep bills, compounded by poor management and lack of investment.

In comparison to John Lewis, which has kept its branch footprint relatively small, concentrated on service and viewed the stores as showrooms that work in tandem with its sophisticated online offering, House of Fraser seems tired and a bit all over the shop, for want of a better term. Anyone who knows the Princes store can’t have failed to notice how run down it has become in recent years, while the website has noticeably lagged behind competitors.

With all this in mind, then, even if the Glasgow store survives for now, you’ve got to wonder what the medium to long term future holds for this Scottish shopping institution. After all, as we can see from the recent clutch of bad news retail stories – not least the plan to close a host of Marks and Spencer stores across the UK – there’s no easy way back for even the most trusted brands when shoppers turn their back on old favourite.

From now on, then, the prospect of Buchanan Street without Frasers, until recently an inconceivable thought, has to at least be considered. And what an awful prospect that is. The sheer size of the gap site such a closure would create – name me one retailer that would or could fill this lovely old store – signifies a headache of massive proportions for the city authorities. To say Buchanan Street, the jewel in Glasgow’s retail crown, would be depleted by such a loss is an understatement. Indeed, I fear it would never recover from this blow. One only has to look to nearby Sauchiehall Street to see what can happen when you lose a couple of anchor stores.

And as a proud Glaswegian this bleak vision breaks my heart. Head into town on a Saturday and for now you will still experience the buzz of shoppers, tourists, culture vultures and pleasure seekers that makes Glasgow feel so full of life. But that doesn’t mean it will be always be thus. This is a case of “use it or lose it” if ever there was one. And I say all this without too much hypocrisy because, unlike many of my peers, I still do the vast majority of my shopping in actual shops, on physical streets.

But can House of Fraser really turn it around? I certainly hope so, for the sake of Buchanan Street and all the other high streets up and down the UK that will retain their branches for now. It’s not going to be easy, of course. And you can’t help thinking without real investment and meaningful change to the model, it’s already a busted flush.

The beautiful Buchanan Street store, with its stunning staircase and elegant galleries, should be viewed by the management as an asset to be loved and cherished, a unique and vintage shopping experience rather than just a warehouse full of products. Getting you through the door should open up an entire morning or afternoon spent in the store, complete with coffee, lunch or a cocktail. Once inside, the advantages of physical shopping should be clear: a computer can’t give you good banter and a whiff of the latest fragrance alongside your purchase. At least not yet.

Our high streets are more than just bricks and mortar. They are the beating hearts of our towns and cities, places to shop, meet and greet, eat, drink and be merry. They also keep us connected with ourselves and each other; for many older people, a wander round the shops, that smile and bit of chat with the person behind the till, provides the only social interaction of the day.

So please don’t shrug off recent struggles in the high street as a purely commercial tale. Our town centres represent community as well as capitalism and their health should matter to us all.