⚰ The death of retail

It has recently been announced that Homebase are to close a large number of stores. This follows the buyout of the House of Fraser group by Mike Ashley, the future of Debenhams in constant speculation, and a series of outright liquidations. Woolworths, something I’m sure many people on this forum felt would always be there, is long gone.

It’s not alone. Retail institution after retail institution has gone under.

I’ll leave the folk on the board to discuss how we got here, but the questions I want to pose are:-

  • Does retail have a future?
  • If so, what sort of shops will still be about?

I’ll get involved later, but for right now, I leave it to you, Sotonians.

Retail is alive and well papster.

Some high street shops are suffering. Usually the less enlightened. More will follow until they grasp that people need a reason to travel, park, walk etc and spend time, to do what they can do from home much quicker.

An example: the toy shop the Entertainer. Unlike Toys R Us, they long ago worked out that if their stores are bright, lively and literally entertaining, they will be enjoyable places to visit for kids and thus parents. Kids can play and experiment in all the branches.

Apple stores are full of people getting hands-on with the kit and getting technical help.

M&S could run cooking lessons or “shows”, highlighting their products of course.

As someone said on TV recently, retailers are spending almost nothing on innovation. They almost seem to be waiting for someone to do it for them. Nuts.


Homebase was also almost ruined by its Aussie owners of 2.5 years. Massively and disastrously misjudged the UK market.

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Those are interesting points, @Bucks, but seriously, look at Portswood these days. Alright, it was never as fully featured as town, but you could get a lot of things there that you might not need to travel into town for.

London is still like that, but that’s no longer the case elsewhere.

One of the next ones to go will be Arcadia, for sure.

The shops that have gone are those that haven’t innovated and relied on product.

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Yep, came in, shut down kitchens and bathrooms (profitable) added massive Aussie style bbqs (unprofitable) and forgot to order heaters for winter (massively profitable). Changed the proposition from hardware and softer furnishing to out and out hardware, but forgot to advertise the fact.

Basicallly they will be a text book study on how not to do a takeover.

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It’s not just the big shops it’s the little one on the high street

Hythe is full of charridee shops as is Cobham. New independent shops open, last maybe a year and disappear. Lack of innovation? Probably not but lack of knowing the local market and unrealistic business plans more likely. I think I read that the typical longevity of businesses in the UK is 5 years or less. That’s not good.

Retail, as in the big, well known names, need to do as @Bucks says i believe.
The small local shops(butcher, baker, greengrocer and the like) are the real problem for a functioning democracy.
So many jobs lost and so much local power handed over to tesco and amazon. Then everything else that’s wrong kind of follows directly from this basic handing over of power.
Until you* all face up to your own part(for lazy convenience) in the things you all moan about(amazon’s tax bill?), you’re all no more than a bunch of sad, no life, no self determination, hypocrites.

*Yeah, when i say “you” i include me.


Our local Homebase was taken over by Bunnings, was shut for quite a while then came back re-branded. The area that had the Argos/ebay pick up had closed and that became a cafe / kids play area. All the kitchen and Habitat stuff gone. I’ve only gone in there for DIY stuff and plants so still kept going. But could see the change. They did have a shed load of fans just before the heat wave so think they managed that. I went in the other day and already back to Homebase.

And I agree with @bucks about his view on retail. I shop less and less in actual shops. As a teenager I pretty much could get what I needed in Portswood High St as they had a New Look, Woolies and the newsagent. By the time I returned to the area 10 years ago a lot of charity shops had popped up. I can see New Look is due to close.

Where I live now we have a Mall with some of the retail chain shops. We have the longest street market in Europe which doesn’t really have anything for me. I do shop on line. It’s easier as I get lazier. But I do have issues with that and will try and buy from smaller shops and markets.

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So, what you guys are saying is my dream of opening my own record shop probably isn’t a great idea?

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Do it only sell Mini Discs… that are recommended by @dinger


Shame I’m leaving East London in a couple of weeks. Could have been a viable business model here.

Globalisation is part of the blame, as are “taxes”. If I go to Westfield it looks no different than Mall of the Emirates here, and sells the same stuff. Why would I want to wear the same clothes/suits as everyone else on the planet.
Primark is so cheap I can wear stuff twice and Chuck it away, yet much of the quality in chain stores is the same yet prices are 5x higher or more.
In Bangkok you have Platinum Mall a maze of thousands of small stalls selling their own designed and made stuff. It is all different.
M&S exist to sell cotton socks & underwear yet they keep dropping the quality and cotton content.
Retail are their own enemies, and taxes in UK stop innovative niche stores in their tracks.
So it’s Amazon for Electronics/White Goods/books, and outlet malls for Next/Lipsey London jackets & dresses for £5.
And all the time container trucks & white vans block the streets dumping stuff on your lawn or collecting the returning shoes that some Chinese factory tried to shave 5% off the cost and so that size no longer fits you.
Primark do it right.
Innovate, not just on activities but also on the actual stock.
So yes it is dying. Apart from my TV last year, I haven’t bought a full price item in a store (except socks & undies) for at least 10 years

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Good point. So many people visit shops to view and handle a product and then purchase it online via Amazon or some other online retailer. I resolved a few years ago to limit what I purchase online and if I do I’ll try and buy from a retailer that has a presence on the High St. It’s not always possible, but I’ll try and buy in shops if I can even if it means coughing up a little bit more.


Socks and undies less than 10 years old?

You are clearly a man of means sir!

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Your second sentence was like a kick in the teeth for my own hypocrisy :persevere:
Good idea to only buy online from those that have a presence on the highstreet. I will remember that and try to follow the rule.
The big problem from my perspective is that taking away of local power. There is no democracy when people at a local level are so beholden to big unaccountable institutions for everything. These institutions have no interest in the local area, bar taking their hard earned money.
When i was a kid, local businesses that were involved in the community/local government/charities were respected and had influence. Now that has gone and i don’t think most people realise what a barrier to the break up of society and local harmony they were.

Key word in your post SoS.


That more than anything else is the reason the UK is such a mess. No respect for anything anymore.
Truth, Media, the bloke in the corner shop, other people…
So yeah…

The media’s lack of truthful reporting has created their own lack of respect unfortunately.
Local accountability would bring more respect, purely because it’s so much harder to palm people off with bullshit when they know you and are standing in front of you.
Respect and community can’t survive being governed from afar, whilst simultaneously having their wealth sucked out by unaccountable corporate devil’s, that see nothing apart from profit margins. Destroy these leeches and we might get some hope and respect back.
Thatchers dream has turned out to be the nightmare it always had to be.
No such thing as society?
Did the witch ever consider what that really means?

I don’t see the dystopia you portray. There are many reasons to be positive about local communities and movements. A neighbour of mine is heavily involved with https://socollective.org.uk/ which is a decent example of (at the risk of sounding like Edward Tattsyrup) local action for local people by local people! It’s just a case of getting up off the fat arse to do something.

And there are many small enterprise retailers who are and continue to establish themselves locally, especially in food and drink, the local farmers market is excellent and small business premises are full up with start up’s or those wanting to establish a business.

Not having a go at you SoS, but there are too many people in this country who love a fucking whinge instead of actually doing something. They see 5 ways not to do something instead of the 1 way to do it. Of course large multinational companies are tax avoiding bastards, but the local picture is not as bleak as you make out. There are plenty of decent folk who’ve worked out that they can be canny enough to not give everything over to the amazon’s and apples and tesco’s of the world. Brexit poses the next big challenge to them, but who knows, here’s hoping that there are at least some positives to come from that whole shitty affair.

If the last recession taught us anything its summed up in a conversation i had with a scots mate who had been laid off and subsequently set up his own business in that " yey’ve got tae plough your own furrow as nae cunt will do it for yea."


Well put and i agree that people need to be proactive, although shopping for decent food is near impossible for the poor(try getting to a farmers market if you don’t own a car).
I do paint a bleak picture, but mainly because most refuse to see and acknowledge what we’re all up against.
The energy spent by some on finding excuses for why they can’t make an effort, is indeed infuriating and often takes more energy than doing the initial task would. Unfortunately with the continued degradation of people’s hope this will become more and more prevalent.
Your Scots friend has it about right, as any help we receive should be an added bonus and not something to expect.
I should probably look into helping some community groups. Might give me a bit more hope.

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