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Is the end of the High St nigh?

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Is the end of the High St nigh?

A week or two back the local model shop announced it was going to close down thus having a closing down sale. Model shops have been struggling for years to survive against the internet and another one hear closed several years ago. There are very few left compared to 20 years ago.

Then we have Toys R Us and also Maplin who are both in trouble and closing down. Others have issued profit warnings (can't remember the names but there were two or three on the news a few days back) and may well soon collapse too..

Seems to me that all the big brands are struggling to survive at the moment. We can blame the internet for that partially but then businesses have high rents, business rates, increased wages / pension / maternity responsibilities and then to clobber them a bit more the local councils usually milk their customers for parking.

Are we going to see our high streets collapse? Maybe we'll return to times when we have more smaller local businesses again? 

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16 REPLIES
Luzern
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Re: Is the end of the High St nigh?

Who can tell? Carpetright too and New Look are also looking to downsize, seeking rent reductions and CVAs. Neither Maplin nor ToysRus seem to be praised much, so it would appear that in a tight trading environment may be quality of service with price is a driver. 

Maybe too the internet suppliers have had it too easy, and for there might be a case for treating them somewhat differently from high street traders as far as taxation is concerned.

The coming years could be even worse, if a cyclical depression is on way in next couple of years, as suggested by a Telegraph pundit. Unfortunately it is premium so quoting a link will not work.

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Minivanman
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Re: Is the end of the High St nigh?

I agree with most of what you say @7up

But the likes of Maplin and Toys R Us are primarily 'out of town' stores and in many cases they were subsidised to set up in those Enterprise Zones? To that end they are in part responsible for the decline of our high streets alongside the likes of Tesco, Currys and Halfords. It's just business I know, but they have hindered and often destroyed rather than helped those small to medium sized retailers and cheered on it seems by Councils trying to extract their last gasps by way of business rates.

It's just not fair either when those same Councils charge us to use town centre car parks - something which those out of town retailers do not. We quite often go into our local town for bits and bobs, but they cannot compete on price and convenience when we do our fortnightly 'big shop' and add to that as you say, internet shopping.

Our high street is not on it's last legs far from it as it is also a twice weekly market for local livestock, but it is sad to see more 'coffee cafes' than shops as well as those ubiquitous (and not always cheap) charity traders. Even our two remaining banks have gone part time!

Changing times and changing fortunes I know, but I think it's going to get a lot worse with little chance of getting any better. 

 

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Re: Is the end of the High St nigh?

With cars being charged just to enter some town centres on top of already ridiculous rising parking charges no real surprise here.

I wonder who will be expected to make up the business rates shortfall?

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Re: Is the end of the High St nigh?

I do feel sorry for the stores, trouble is in this day and age - you can just jump on-line and get what you want tomorrow morning for next day (or maybe a few more) days delivery. So why bother driving somewhere and worrying about parking?

I am not a fan of on-line shopping myself, I only ever use it to buy things I know I can't pickup locally in person.

Minivanman
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Re: Is the end of the High St nigh?

Stupid me left off and then lost the cars engine oil cap, so rather than order on line I caught the bus into town where they have a little auto shop and all in the name of giving support to our local traders. None in stock which was fair enough so one was ordered and I paid up front £9.00 for it - "it will cost you twice that from Fords" he said.

Anyways, again by bus I returned the next day only to find I had paid for what looked to me like some cheap knock off but, ho hum, at least it sort of fitted and I could drive my car without venting oil all over the engine.

Yep, you've guessed it. Checked on line and I could have bought a genuine one for a fiver post free. 

Ah well, charity begins at home or in this case, with our local trader. Cry 

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Re: Is the end of the High St nigh?

I must admit I liked Maplin, there was one not too far from me. I got my dad a nice Christmas present there - a wireless weather station which he liked. As I say about on-line shopping I never find it the same as looking and seeing it in person which might just be me.

The only things I buy - which I did recently was a real C64 and that was a pain. As they are becoming rarer they're not as cheap as they used to be! You've also got to really implement a quality control filter on eBay as many of the listings are "sold as seen" (I read that as broken) or ones with keys missing I avoided of course. Then I bought a C64 monitor to Scart cable, used my Samsung Scart adapators which come with the TV. Also a flash disk drive and with loader, the real C64 can run programs and games from them - which of course I own the originals. Maybe Cheesy

Looks pretty nice on the 40" Samsung. Similarly yes I know you've got emulators but I liked the challenge of getting original hardware working with modern hardware. Cool smiley

Sorry digressing a bit there, but a shame about Toys R Us too. I am a bit too old now for that kind of shop, but I have niece who is far younger than me. Luckily we're a 45 minute commute to Central London so I may have to suggest to my sister we do a Hamleys visit (don't think she has had one yet).

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Re: Is the end of the High St nigh?

Several times recently I have gone on line and looked at a firms website and found what I wanted so as I needed to go into Town later that day called in to the shop to purchase the item, only to be told they did not stock it, if you want it you will need to go to our online website.

I have now got to the point where if something is on line and it's a item based in this country I buy it.

Looking in some of the larger shops in the local town they have few customers in and most appear to be just browsing, so some shops will survive such as Primark, cheap and cheerful along with Aldi & Lidi but many of the bigger and well known shops will close.

 

 

Minivanman
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Re: Is the end of the High St nigh?

@Alex

Not so sorry about that toy shop. 

They set up camp on the approach to Swansea town centre some years back in something that resembled a sheet metal aircraft hanger. It was an abomination that would not have been allowed elsewhere and that's a fact. Same with Tesco and their huge shed of a store and one far different to the one they built just over the border in Hereford for example.

Did money change hands so it could be shoved up? It wouldn't surprise me.   

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Re: Is the end of the High St nigh?

With so many of our large brands in trouble (eg even Tesco and Sainsburys are worried) I find myself asking why they don't start downsizing and sharing property to cut their costs. EG why does Maplin need a big store when half of it is full of overpriced cheap chinese junk? - Why not take on a section of a Tesco store and lower their prices on popular stuff while increasing their turnover of visitors? - Tesco have been wanting to get out of electricals ever since their crisis a few years back and so this would make perfect sense to let an electronics retailer take over that floor space (yeah i know its too late for Maplin but you get the idea right?)

 

The same could surely be done for others.

Or maybe we should see a return of the indoor markets in these big shops that are so expensive? - individual retailers and / or large brands all helping each other to survive. It's quite apparent that the current way of having a shop does not work especially when competing with the internet.

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Re: Is the end of the High St nigh?

@7up

It is has happened in my area, and as you say I am sure we will see it increase.

We had a massive B&Q near my area, my dad never liked it saying it was far too big.

Whether it was sold or sublet, it is now half a B&Q and half an ASDA now.

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Re: Is the end of the High St nigh?

That's a great example and shows that it can be done.

Remember the indoor markets? - That's what the big brands who are running into trouble need to start considering. All these big trading estate shops all look nice and impressive but if you're filling them up with expensive stock that takes a couple of months to shift then you're going to sink - as many now are. They need to look at sharing premises in order to keep their expenses down and survive.

Maplin could have been saved like this. Their stock is expensive and their component ranges aren't going to be big sellers on a daily basis.. so they could have scaled down and survived. They also needed to focus more on customer service because they were very good at causing annoyance. Their stock control was appalling with their website showing stock where it wasn't or none where there was. Ring up and grumble? They didn't want to know at all and their money off vouchers were a bit of a mickey take too. I still hope that somehow they will be rescued at the last minute though..

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Minivanman
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Re: Is the end of the High St nigh?

But why should we care about the demise of those big trading estate shops when they are in no small way responsible for the decline of our high streets. Did they give a fig?

Let them sink or swim, our small town communities are having to.

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Re: Is the end of the High St nigh?

Well our high streets are charging extortionate parking charges for a start. Plus more and more are becoming car unfriendly in general and most seem to be 50% coffee or £1 shops these days so hardly a great shopping experience.

Retail in general is under threat and it will destroy this country if we have to wait 2-3 days to buy anything via mail order in order to get things done. This is the 21st century, we're supposed to have better access to things and better services than ever. Not "buy now, get 2 days later".

Amazon are screwing over the retail sector at the moment. I don't like anything about them other than their convenience but thats not enough to make me use them. I used to years ago but closed my account as i got fed up of their tactics around 10 years ago.

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Pete11
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Re: Is the end of the High St nigh?

It's not just the high streets that are suffering. Our local markets are suffering too. Very close to me one market has gone completely and another under threat because of high parking charges and stall rents that are astronomical. It's a vicious circle, rents for stalls are through the roof, parking is basically exorbitant and then the council are wondering why nobody is renting stalls. If the council would only look at their pricing structure and give it a rethink then maybe these would survive. After all, markets have been sort of a meeting place for hundreds of years.

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