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What Is Really Killing Town Centres And Jobs

What Is Really Killing Town Centres And Jobs

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Published by Ian Thorpe
It is very easy to blame the internet for the decay of our town centres. As high streets and shopping malls appear to have more shops boarded up and bankrupt than are open for business, blaming the internet alone is too easy. The digital revolution must take some of the blame for stubbornly high jobless statistics too, but the whole picture is far more complex.
It is very easy to blame the internet for the decay of our town centres. As high streets and shopping malls appear to have more shops boarded up and bankrupt than are open for business, blaming the internet alone is too easy. The digital revolution must take some of the blame for stubbornly high jobless statistics too, but the whole picture is far more complex.

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Categories:Types, Business/Law
Published by: Ian Thorpe on Feb 01, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/23/2014

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What Is Really Killing Our Town Centres?
Ian R Thorpe1
st
Feb 2013
Only one month in and already 2013 becoming a nightmare for Britain's high-street retailers, as three major chains go into administration within the first threeweeks.As three prominent national high-street chains declare themselves bankrupt in justtwo weeks, t it is time to take a close look at what is going on in our towns and thereal reasons one in four (and in some places up to one in three) shops are empty and boarded up. And it it is not only the internet that is to blame.First to declare itself bankrupt was photographic retailer Jessops, which was foundedin 1935. The company went into administration - a form of corporate insolvency thatallows orderly winding up or restructuring rather than creditors sending in a bunch of heavies to grab what they can - on Wednesday, 9 January. Just two days later accountancy firm Price Waterhouse Coopers decided that Jessops could not continueas a going concern, so it closed the chain. As a result, 187 stores were boarded up,with 1,370 jobs lost.The second chain to enter administration this year is music and entertainmentretailer HMV, famed for it's iconic logo which made the business a household name .
 
Its landmark store in London's Oxford Street was opened by Sir Edward Elgar on 20July 1921. HMV appointed administrators on Monday, 14 January 2013.One piece of good news is that HMV's administrators Deloitte are keeping thegroup trading as buyers circle for scraps. This could mean the sale of some of HMV's238 worldwide outlets to save at least some jobs among the workforce of almost4,500.Two days after HMV, video rental chain Blockbuster went under. The business has528 stores and employs 4,200 staff in Britain. Lee Manning, a partner atadministrators Deloitte, said they were hoping to save as much of the business as theycould. "We are working closely with suppliers and employees to ensure the businesshas the best possible platform to secure a sale, preserve jobs and generate as muchvalue as possible for all creditors.” His words are filled with optimism but it isdifficult to see how Blockbusters can fit into a market reshaped by the digitalrevolution.Another major retailer, Comet electrical narrowly missed qualifying for theJanuary catastrophe when the group storesclosed for businessin the dying weeks of 2012 with 6000 employees getting their redundancy notice instead of a Christmascard.The recession and the internet arethe reasons offered most frequentlyfor these firms’ collapse, as usual if we look at the bigger picture we seemany other factors at work. Whilethese and other less well known retail businesses have failed, some highstreet chains – both new and old -have seen their fortunes soar.The John Lewis Partnership (owners of John Lewis department stores andWaitrose, the posh peoples' supermarkets) proudly announced record sales over therecent festive season, with Waitrose's sales up 5.4% to over £300 million in the last
 
two weeks of 2012.John Lewis is not the only British retail chain to be doing well in troubled times.Halfords is also thriving in this era of austerity, as squeezed incomes drive spendingon bicycles and DIY car maintenance. On Tuesday, Halfords' trading statementrevealed that sales at its Autocentres surged by an eighth (12.4%) in the 15 weeks to11 January.So why do some retailers thrive, while others dive or merely survive? Here are afew reasons that separate high-street winners from losers:
Death by Technology
With strong growth of high-speed broadband over the past decade, online saleshave exploded and that has played a major role in the decline of town centre retailing.In 2011, we Brits spent over £68 billion online, with Amazon at the forefront of thisretail phenomenon.For some retailers, notably giant supermarkets such as Tesco, Sainsbury's andAsda, the online revolution has opened a new channel for extra sales. Online orderingand 'to -your-door' delivery have proved popular with families in which both parentswork. For other business, it had spelled death, crushing sales of recorded music, bothsingles and albums in favour of digital downloads. With the demise of HMV mosttowns are without a shop selling recorded music unless there is a niche retailer tuckedaway in some dark alley making a living from selling specialist and collectible titles.With the supermarket giants having muscled in and by heavy discounting takenthe sales of chart hits and popular artist's back catalogues away from independentsand specialist chains, what is left for those outlets now they cannot compete with the billions of tracks downloaded each year from Apple's iTunes store or challengeSpotify, which has taken music listening and downloading by storm?Likewise, a tsunami of free, but illegal 'pirate' downloads has collapsed high-street sales of these items. I have been called a dinosaur and told I am resistasnt tochange because of my articles condemning the practice of collecting music via illegalfile sharing. This is a typically petulant reaction from web worshippers, I happen to

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