After 806 Woolworths shops closed their doors in the UK over the past few days, which British high street chain will be the next to go? According to “December 29, 2008: “Begbies Traynor, the insolvency expert, predicted only days before Christmas that up to 15 retail chains would crumble by the middle of January… PwC has already calculated that 4,000 empty shops will appear on Britain’s high streets if only 10 per cent of the nation’s retailers hit financial problems over the next 12 months.” What would you like to see go first? Here’s my anti-capitalist top ten wish list!
1. MacDonalds. Consensus means that inevitably this has to top the list of chains anti-capitalists would like to go bankrupt! Unfortunately its franchising system makes this unlikely. But junk food is ruining both children’s health and the planet. Alongside MacDonalds, I’d also be very happy to see Burger King and Starbucks go to too.
2. Countrywide. This is the UK’s biggest estate agents with about 30 different brands under its umbrella including Gascoigne Pees and Bairstow Eves. Economists are suggesting that house prices haven’t started falling properly yet, based on historical precedent it looks like they ought to fall 30 percent before long. It would be great to see even more estate agents going out of business and ordinary people getting access to decent housing.
3. Somerfield. A big supermarket chain going bust would really send out the message that capitalism doesn’t service our needs. The Icelandic banking crisis seems to have left the Co-Op take over of Somerfield in limbo. Loosing Waitrose, food retailer to the middle-classes, would be a groove sensation too!
4. Marks & Spenser. You can only rely on the elastic in M&S underwear as long as the retailer is in business; the closure of this chain would really put middle-class knickers in a twist.
5. Barclays Bank. It ought to be number one with a bullet, but down at number 5 because of the bail outs. And I only choose Barclays rather than another banking chain because of anti-apartheid campaigns against them in the past and the fact that Barclays (Bank) is Cockney rhyming slang for wank. The closure of all banks and the abolition of money is what I actually favour. According to Wikipedia: “Barclays PLC is ranked as the 25th largest company in the world according to Forbes Global 2000 (2008 list) and the fourth largest financial services provider in the world according to Tier 1 capital ($32.5 billion). It is the second largest bank in the United Kingdom based on asset size.”
6. Waterstones. This book chain is a typical example of the pile ‘em high and sell ‘em cheap mentality. In terms of prose fiction in the UK what makes money is what big publishers pay to push in the windows and on the front tables of this chain. Getting rid of Waterstones, and hopefully W. H. Smith at the same time, would do a great deal to create a more level playing field amongst novelists, instead of everything being so over-loaded in favour of the literary establishment’s lackeys. Additionally many branches of Waterstones also host Costa Coffee or Starbucks coffee shops, so you’re not just getting rid of a book chain, you’re also nailing corporate cafes at the same time!
7. Blockbuster. This video/DVD/game rental store holds such a dominant position in the market it has been able to get the movie business to self-censor itself. With the rise of the internet any retail outlet specialising in games, DVDs and CDs is potentially in trouble; viz the demise of Tower Records, MVC/EA Music, Music Zone, Fopp (although seven flagship stores are still trading under HMV ownership) and now Zavvi (formerly Virgin Records).
8. Argos/Homebase (both owned by Home Retail Group). Go to Argos and you have to queue twice, once to order the product and again to collect it from a counter. Absolutely pointless, especially in an age of internet shopping. Meanwhile Homebase is every bit as bad as B&Q, but a little bit more expensive.
9. JJB Sports. This company has indulged in price fixing and sells overpriced branded sportswear, so if they disappeared from the UK high street, the loss would be to their shareholders.
10. Tie Rack. This chain retails ties, scarves, cuff-links and other disgusting looking shit you’d never want to own. Their stores are small but always irritating, especially when you see one in a train station or airport, where somehow they annoy even more than on the high street. The closure of Tie Rack would definitely make the world a better place!
So this is my top ten shop closure wish list. Use to the comments below to let us all know where you’d like to see the credit crunch bite next in the retail sector!
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – http://www.stewarthomesociety.org/ – you know it makes (no) sense!
Tags: anti-capitalism, Argos, B&Q, Bairstow Eves, Barclays Bank, Blockbuster, Burger King, Co-Op, Costa Coffee, Countrywide, credit crunch, EA Music, financial crisis, Fopp, Gascoigne Pees, high street closures, HMV, Homebase, JJB Sports, MacDonalds, Marks and Spenser, Music Zone, MVC, recession, Somerfield, Starbucks, Tie Rack, Tower Records, Virgin Records, W. H. Smith, Waitrose, Waterstones, Woolworths, Zavvi