The UK’s double dip recession has led to some wacky transformations in the retail sector. Among the less welcome of these are the continuing transformation of central London into a shopping theme park. Having ruined parts of east London with Olympics developments, the planners now want to turn those parts of The City between Holborn and Cheapside into a so-called ‘shopper’s paradise’ too – so the suburban middle-class can have days out in town where they enjoy retail therapy a-go-go all the way from Oxford Street to Spitalfields.
Right now there is also a race on to open new (as well as revamp old) London stores before the start of the Olympics. One of the new to the UK market retailers is America lingerie giant Victoria’s Secret – their Bond Street store opens on 25 July. Given the ongoing obesity crisis maybe Bravissimo is where the retail trade should expect a real expansion in this sector of the market. Bravissimo sell lingerie, swimwear, clothing and nightwear for D to L cup women. There may or may not be a retail bonanza in London from tourists during the Olympics – but does anyone really expect this madness to continue afterwards?
Casting aside underwear and moving on to groceries, it is being suggested that the average UK consumer is now so broke that multi-buy offers (discounting for multiple purchases) may soon be a thing of the past. These days people are increasingly going out with a list of what they need for the week and will buy nothing else. No matter how good the offer, the impoverished majority are increasingly just not interested in buying anything more than their immediate needs. Hence the return of the once mighty budget supermarket Kwiksave – which closed down in 2007. Now a franchise operation owned by Costcutter, the first of the new Kwiksave convenience stores opened at 21 Market Street, Little Lever, Bolton, about a month ago. There are plans for a second revamped Kwiksave to open somewhere in Scotland soon.
Moving on again, I’m amazed that the likes of Watersones, HMV and JJB Sports have hung on in there on as UK chain stores. Waterstones is currently revamping it’s bookshops and doing what was previously thought unthinkable – selling Amazon Kindle readers. HMV has also turned more to flogging hardware – having seen music and DVD sales collapse. The JJB Sports plan is to have more exclusive product – it’s been making a huge loss and really ought to do the decent thing and close! It really can’t compete with the unashamedly cheap and nasty Sports Direct! But remember kids, ultimately it isn’t just these shops that are gonna die – capitalism itself can’t survive forever!
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – www.stewarthomesociety.org – you know it makes (no) sense!