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    • #6227

      Bill
      Participant

      Why are so many giant named bricks and mortar retail companies on the verge of going bust?
      Surely it cant be as simple as blaming it on the pandemic and empty tills?
      I’m guessing that many retail drones are on furlough, rent holidays are on offer from local councils to businesses, and big businesses have a war-chest of cash to ride out financial storms?
      Or is it a matter of cutting losses to satisfy hungry shareholders who want profit, profit, now, now, now and are not interested in long term investment?

    • #6228

      yocal
      Participant

      They have been going bust for a long time. Internet shopping is much easier and usually cheaper. I only shop on the high street in charity shops.

    • #6229

      toerag
      Participant

      Because online shopping. Chain-store retail is rubbish, by and large. It’s no great surprise that people are abandoning it in droves and have been doing for a while. It’s also a blip on our history, having been big for only about 30 years or so.
      I won’t miss it. The Internet allows me to buy from small to medium businesses remotely, increasing their reach. The future of retail is ideally this sort of arrangement – small, independent businesses made more viable by online.

    • #6230

      Peter
      Participant

      Sorry to pick out one aspect of your OP but I think it’s a little unkind to refer to shop employees as “retail drones” regardless of whatever bad experience you’ve had with poor service.

      As for the question, I would guess that despite appearances and assumptions, these big chains have been “only just” keeping afloat, for a while, and it hasn’t taken much to drag them under.

    • #6231

      AngryFish
      Participant

      I’m guessing that many retail drones are on furlough, rent holidays are on offer from local councils to businesses, and big businesses have a war-chest of cash to ride out financial storms?

      I’m not sure rent holidays are as easy to obtain as you suggest. Certainly some interviewed on the radio from some trade body suggesting many still receiving their normal rent demands. Also I don’t think many have large cash reserves: who would have forseen a need to go months with close to zero revenue (for those without a big online presence?) Some were on the brink of being viable before, so no one will extend them credit now.

    • #6232

      scats
      Participant

      Why would Councils be offering rent holidays, whilst Council have significantly increased there commercial portfolios in recent years, their investments are a tiny part of the high street and out of town market.

    • #6233

      Robert
      Participant

      They are going under because the competition is

      a) paying low taxes (e.g. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45053528 )

      b) paying low wages with very long days (delivery people) and despite our need for speed we all expect this to be free
      https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-delivery-drivers-reveal-claims-of-disturbing-work-conditions-2018-8?r=US&IR=T

      c) cannot offer the choice or review systems (however biased and unfair) that a large website can do, and how many small shops are used for viewing before ordering on line – must be so depressing.

      Where I live, 30 years after the miners strike and pit closures (which did nothing for the local economy) the middle of the town is mainly empty and rather seedy, with massive warehouse complexes south of the town and one busy shopping park with Morrisons and a few other shops away from the centre. Even there, there have been closures. The only hope for the town centre is to be an increasingly residential setting with a few shops, but such regeneration will cost a lot and currently you are unlikely to visit to eat, drink or socialise. Quite depressing given the enormous numbers of new houses being built.

      In answer to your other point, I am sure there will be some cutting their losses to maximise the potential for profit – that’s what such people do – social care is not what they signed up for.

    • #6236

      bert
      Participant

      I think assuming that big businesses have such war-chests is rather optimistic. Many big businesses are instead laden with debt, that seemingly being the preferred method of funding expansion.
      For example, Intu, one of Britain’s biggest shopping centre operators, was reported earlier this year to have debts of £4.5bn. While Intu itself is not a retailer, this does rather suggest the sector was not in a healthy state prior to the lockdown restrictions reducing retail spending to next to nothing.

      • #6238

        trump
        Participant

        That is the way of the modern world. House of cards and big dividends.
        Some will be using it as an excuse to ditch a less profitable arm of the business too

    • #6237

      Yorkshirelad
      Participant

      Business rates. The rateable value of the property is based on market value of the property. Out of town retailers have small values but are locked in for 20 odd years. They can’t afford to buy themselves out of these properties.
      The high street suffers even more because houses in the centres of towns are worth more and so rates are even higher.
      This may be just the straw that breaks the camels back. Plenty of big retailers have the market sown up with online and out of town shops. Especially those that will accept returns from online. You select online and try on at home them bag up what you don’t want and take it into the store. No messing around with post offices and couriers.

      • #6245

        Ian
        Participant

        That was only valid up to march this year, as all retail businesses are paying zero business rates this fiscal year, so one of the major factors in the demise of the high street has been taken away (at least for now). There are however , many other straws being loaded onto the retail camel at the moment.
        On the subject of rates; I hope the government take this opportunity to completely change how businesses are taxed – business rates are completely outmoded now; my view is that the burden should fall onto corp tax in all cases (so it becomes a variable rather than fixed tax) but I suspect the tories will look to VAT (if anything…….).

        The Tories hate businesses the only businesses the Tories will help are the companies that pay them millions in lobby (bribes) such as amazon and Google for example. :/

    • #6239

      matt123
      Participant

      Why are so many giant named bricks and mortar retail companies on the verge of going bust?

      Surely it cant be as simple as blaming it on the pandemic and empty tills?

      I’m guessing that many retail drones are on furlough, rent holidays are on offer from local councils to businesses, and big businesses have a war-chest of cash to ride out financial storms?

      In large part it can be. High street retail has been under pressure for a long time, nobody has been sitting back on huge cash reserves, those doing relatively well have invested and or paid dividends but most have been treading water at best.
      Even closed shops with furloughed staff have lots of fixed costs, many have contracts for new stock they can’t escape and in many cases are having to warehouse in their retail space if it arrives at all now the container freight system is all disrupted and many ships are stranded outside quarantines. Then there’s all the usual non-staffing fixed costs: rent, insurance, security, loan repayments, maintenance, none of them easily escaped and if I understand correctly the bigger chain stores haven’t benefited from government covid grants or rate holidays.

      Or is it a matter of cutting losses to satisfy hungry shareholders who want profit, profit, now, now, now and are not interested in long term investment?

      I suspect the vast majority of retailers, from the smallest to the biggest are fighting for their existence right now, even in the best case scenario a lot of them will lose that fight whether or not the shareholders and management are greedy. If there’s a spike in non-retail unemployment, persistent medium level threat from the virus (as now) and reducing availability of cheap credit hitting consumer confidence then I fear our highstreets could be completely, unimaginably devastated. Particularly so those which have become highly experience rather than retail focused if we’re not able or willing to gather and socialise en masse with strangers, retail can be organised to be much safer than bars, clubs and eateries then there is the persistent public toilet problem.

    • #6240

      fudgeface
      Participant

      Because many are not proper retailers and do not make money, or at least not enough off the stuff they sell, but instead are financial tools for people like Phillip Green to make money off, and for years its been a plate spinning trick, but the Pandemic has stopped interfered and the plates are falling off the sticks.
      Also Amazon which also is not a proper retailer, it makes very little off selling stuff, and other Etailers are better at this financial smoke and mirrors… at the moment.

      Amazon would rather make a loss and destroy small retailers than let them have any piece of the pie.

    • #6241

      Andrew
      Participant

      Such a shame.

      I know nothing about town planning (you might say obviously) but we need a new way forward, so that towns are not charity shops and building societies peppered in posher areas with coffee bars and restaurants.

      Also worth noting there is a social and exploratory aspect to shopping which many find enjoyable (although not for me) that is not provided by mail order.

      • #6242

        scats
        Participant

        I think bars, restaurants and residential are key. As are smaller premises to allow for smaller businesses to move in. Look at how small high streets in London seem to thrive in a way they don’t elsewhere in the UK – that.
        London away from Oxford/Regent Street and the Westfields is still very much the land of the independent business – we need our other town and city centres to go that way. However much people wring their hands and whine about WH Smith, Currys Digital etc doing badly, I’m sorry, but they just don’t provide good range, service or price – there is quite literally nothing whatsoever good about them other than the employment they provide, and even that isn’t great – it’s dead-end, low-paid work.
        I also think we need to encourage more small businesses to be founded by way of grants, loans, and moving some of the burdens of employment (for a business) onto the State, funded by taxation, to make it easier to employ people.

    • #6243

      Gaz
      Participant

      Because they have massive stores, pay loads in rent, rates, heat, light, staffing and a large number of consumers just use them to view goods prior to buying from Amazon etc… FYI I never shop at amazon and think people who do are short sighted morons.

    • #6244

      Ian
      Participant

      And the next big challenge is going to be the viability of the large shopping malls. Intu, the owner of most (?) of the large shopping centres (trafford / westfield / metrocentre etc etc) is on its uppers (massive debts), and what it cannot do is drop its rental income. At Gateshead it has already lost House of Fraser and Debenhams this year.

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