Author Topic: Is This The End Of Retail?  (Read 8014 times)

Torslanda

  • Professional Gobshite
  • Just a tart for retro kit . . .
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Is This The End Of Retail?
« on: June 09, 2018, 07:22:40 pm »
**Note to mods: Please don't move this to POBI unless it gets ugly.**

Maplin, Toys'R'Us, Poundlandworld, M&S restructuring, House of Fraser on the brink...

Is this the death knell for retail as we know it? Or is it just a sea change?

Leave aside the evil of the government, do the banks want to own entire empty high streets of retail premises? Will there be nothing left besides charity shops? Can local government manage without the business rates?

What are we gonna do now, Butch?
VELOMANCER

Well that's the more blunt way of putting it but as usual he's dead right.

Re: Is This The End Of Retail?
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2018, 07:39:34 pm »
It's not just about price.   It's about range.  If a shop has to order stuff in, you might as well order it online yourself.

The future of the High Street can only be in service-heavy retailers like you.  Box-shifting won't cut it.  Clothes retailing should work because people like to try for fit and the online version of that is a bit tedious.
Never tell me the odds.

Re: Is This The End Of Retail?
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2018, 07:49:25 pm »
Service is key or a USP.

A shop where you can go and ask advice about what you can buy should survive such as a great hardware shop. Unfortunately a lot of them have been kicked out by huge business rates and rents been predicated on the massive profits the chain shops such as Next could make per square foot in the 80s and 90s.  There will have to be a drop back to sensible rents and business rates or the whole high street will be empty.
I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that.

Re: Is This The End Of Retail?
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2018, 07:56:31 pm »
End of retail?  Are people buying less?
Yes the High Street is changing, some clever companies have seen this coming and used their physical presence to display goods without intending to do much supply from there.  Think Apple stores or in the bike world Specialized concept stores.  That's what the High Street will look like in a decade, somewhere to go look before buying online.  With HS income coming from suppliers wanting display space.
I was in Jessops a few weeks ago with a friend looking for a camera. Knowledgeable staff, helpful with information, not bothered about making a sale, very bothered that you knew they'd price match and could get anything delivered next day. I don't know if that's their business model, it certainly fits my theory and I can see how it would greatly reduce their costs not to have lots of stock.   

ElyDave

  • Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society member 263583
Re: Is This The End Of Retail?
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2018, 08:10:31 pm »
I commented on this a few days ago to SWMBO, to the extent that I reckon it's the death knell for large department stores, John Lewis seeming to be the exception, but they have the integrated supply chain through Waitrose as a drop point.

I reckon "department store" shopping can only really survive online.

The high street will regress to nothing more than charity shops and coffee bars.  Interestingly this weekend, I spent more on our farmers market than in the supermarket. 
“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” –Charles Dickens

Re: Is This The End Of Retail?
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2018, 08:21:37 pm »
"Peak stuff" and the "experience economy"?


Re: Is This The End Of Retail?
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2018, 08:59:42 pm »
I think there are multiple factors to blame.  One is the council / intu charging large amounts for parking.  i have noticed that towns with free or nearly free parking are still alive and have open shops.

Also towns with easy access.  Nottingham with its trams seems to have a vibrant city centre culture.  Since moving close to the tram stop we have vastly increased our use of city centre life for cinema, eating, concerts, etc.

Clothes shopping for both my wife and I is now almost entirely online.  order 10-15 items in 2 sizes, try them on in our own home, change shoes, necklaces, etc as required, return all but 2 items via collect+ or similar.  Drop off point is 5 minutes away.

Bike parts are bought online and my local reapir shop if I use him operates out of an old container.




Re: Is This The End Of Retail?
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2018, 10:33:52 pm »
Perhaps the high street will become the home of the specialist independents. The sort of place where you go along to hang out and talk technique, during coffee and try new things out, be they fromthe shop stock or from a fellow player of your game. The shop will have affiliate links with major online suppliers so you order while your in store, and it gets delivered to your home, either by the time you get home or the next day.
Sorting my life out, one shed at a time.

Porkins

  • Formerly Nick H. And a long time ago etc, Eurostar
Re: Is This The End Of Retail?
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2018, 11:06:02 pm »
Retailers need to adapt by giving people a reason to visit their premises. Book shops do it by adding coffee. Argos are doing it with in-store pickup for non-Argos purchases on ebay. One of the existing retail chains should have added Doddle's function so that Doddle never had a reason to open their own premises. I'm sure Maplin could have come up with a reason to exist if they'd used some imagination. The high street has value for its social contact opportunities. Bookshops with coffee recognise that. Maplin could have had a small space for one of their staff to fabricate something interesting and encourage customers to have a go. If Maplin had taught me to solder I'd be loyal to them. But they all they offered was a long queue at the till with no staff to talk to.

Maybe the problem is that so many talented people left retail management because they couldn't see a future? The John Lewis partnership is still doing well because they have terrific managers.

Before the internet retailers were adding a 30% margin. Now they can't. So maybe the problem is that the managers had an easy ride before the internet and now their shortcomings are exposed.

LEE

  • "Shut Up Jens" - Legs.
Re: Is This The End Of Retail?
« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2018, 12:05:39 am »
Unless your town is a tourist destination or has a very high level of income then the High Street is dead,

The amount of choice available, on ANY given product* , makes it impossible for an actual shop to stock it (unless it's Coffee, Charity, costs a pound or it's a phone SIM).

*Wiggle list 93 different types of Rim brake blocks, a choice only possible given a warehouse/online retail model.

Rates, shoplifting, staffing, time-wasting customers, wasted stock..and so on, make it hugely expensive to maintain a high street presence.  A central warehouse and home delivery makes perfect sense (unless you want a vibrant high street).

Here's the rub though.  Everyone I've ever heard moaning about the demise of the high street has bought goods online. Irony no?

Why not convert high street shops into affordable housing?  That's what we really need.  Why do we actually need, or want, to walk around congested city centres any more?  Why not spend your weekends walking around countryside instead? 

Why do we long for the "high street"?
Some people say I'm self-obsessed but that's enough about them.

T42

  • Gaulois réfractaire
Re: Is This The End Of Retail?
« Reply #10 on: June 10, 2018, 07:41:04 am »
Why do we long for the "high street"?

Because it was fun, and gave you an excuse to end up in the pub at 11 am.
I dare eat all that may become a man.

But hold the oysters.

Re: Is This The End Of Retail?
« Reply #11 on: June 10, 2018, 08:33:11 am »
The High Street is evolving, that's all. It's turning towards those things you can't get on the internet: nail bars, coffee shops, fresh food, convenience shops. We're not at that stage yet but if all retail shops closed you can bet your bottom dollar that the premises would be taken up by "Amazon Touch'n'Feel" or the like where they could stack up stuff to look at, online retailers depend on bricks and mortar showrooms as much as their virtual worlds.

MikeFromLFE

  • Previously known as Millimole
Re: Is This The End Of Retail?
« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2018, 09:32:01 am »





Why do we long for the "high street"?

Since I saw this thread start, this is the question I've been thinking about.
Without trying to stay into the area that would get this discussion moved, I suspect it's part of the current nostalgia for a Britain that never existed.

This vision of the high street is where jolly housewives gaily skipped to the butcher, baker and greengrocer to buy their daily provisions, and they could look into the windows of the dress shop, the milliners, or the haberdashers.
Frankly it's bollox.
I'm old enough to remember proper High Streets (Green Lanes in Harringay, and Wood Green High Street in particular). Shopping was a chore, the choice was minimal, the shopkeepers were surly, and, while I can remember The Scotch Wool Shop, and Maynards sweet shop windows, we never bought anything because they were too expensive for us as 'ordinary' people. I can remember my mother buying meat that has 'gone off' from the local butcher.

This kind of not-remembered high street hasn't existed since the (maybe) late 60s. It's a product of the false memory of the Daily Mail crowd. I say good riddance.

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Too many angry people - breathe & relax.

Re: Is This The End Of Retail?
« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2018, 10:17:29 am »
One consequence of retail parks is that the sort of people who still use the town centre tend to be the demographic without cars (and often without jobs, judging from the fact some of them are drinking Frosty Jack's at 10 am).  They don't spend much and the shops get lower-end.  It's self-reinforcing.
Never tell me the odds.

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: Is This The End Of Retail?
« Reply #14 on: June 10, 2018, 06:54:47 pm »
I suppose contemporary shopping goes two ways – online or the shopping as a leisure activity experience in some kind of Westfield-type mall. Unless a high street is convenient for foot traffic, people don't go there to shop unless they have no choice.

I confess I buy most stuff online. I don't see shopping as a leisure activity so I just want it over and done with. I can do that with a few clicks without leaving this seat. Choice, I think, is often a lie. Does anyone need 94 types of brake block? Or 10 types of cornflake? I doubt it. I read a study somewhere where the authors compared the actual range of a small high street convenience store and supermarket, and they wasn't that much difference in terms of type of item. It was just varieties of the same item. Advertising has done a great job of convincing us we not only need our favourite brand but we somehow have loyalty to it.

Change is normal, we're no longer a society were the housewife can pop out to the butchers, bakers etc. everyday at 11 (like my gran did, without fail). High streets can survive by providing a place to go and socialise, for the sort of shops that can't easily be replicated online, etc. And a plea to localism, give people an excuse not to get in their car and go to another grim out-of-town retail centre so they can wait around in a warehouse for a bored salesperson to tell them that no, they don't have it.

Of course, we no active planning that supports that kind of development, high streets become channels for cars and people going somewhere else, and you're left with the people who don't have choice. That means betting shops, fast food, and convenience stores with cheap booze and lottery tickets.
!nataS pihsroW

Ben T

  • What you saying, then?
Re: Is This The End Of Retail?
« Reply #15 on: June 11, 2018, 08:55:11 am »
It's not just about price.   It's about range.  If a shop has to order stuff in, you might as well order it online yourself.
;D It always makes me laugh when I go into an actual physical shop (largely because I want to get something there and then) , ask for something , to be greeted with the response: "er.. no, but we can get it?"
Well I can get it!
This is destiny, it's fate, it's the matrix working in my favour.

Ben T

  • What you saying, then?
Re: Is This The End Of Retail?
« Reply #16 on: June 11, 2018, 09:03:16 am »
I am prepared to give a certain amount of leeway to physical shops in not having the exact variant of product I'm after.
e.g. cycle products. Years ago I wanted a new derailleur - went into JE James, not the smallest most independent cycle shop in the world. Asked for a 10 speed, low normal, short cage, shimano, MTB, rear mech.
No.
OK, forget low normal. Have you got any 10 speed, short cage, shimano mechs?
No, sorry.
OK, have you got any 10 speed, shimano mechs?
Doesn't look like it.
Have you got any shimano mechs at all?
er... no.

About 6 years ago, probably even worse now.
I'd personally be prepared to go to an actual physical shop if they had a reasonable range - after all, sometimes with amazon you get too much choice. But the range of products in physical shops diminishes to just the ones with the most margin purely because of the rise in online shops, so it's not just because online is more convenient. It's just not possible any more.
This is destiny, it's fate, it's the matrix working in my favour.

Ben T

  • What you saying, then?
Re: Is This The End Of Retail?
« Reply #17 on: June 11, 2018, 09:10:07 am »
*Wiggle list 93 different types of Rim brake blocks, a choice only possible given a warehouse/online retail model.

That's too much really.
But you do need one that's suitable for each differing need - so one for 'normal' rims, one for carbon rims, one for each type of v-brake, etc etc. What you don't need is competing products that are ostensibly just as good as each other that serve the same purpose.
For any given need you want one, but only one, obvious choice. One role of the shop should be choosing which of the competing products that choice should be for each use case.
This is destiny, it's fate, it's the matrix working in my favour.

road-runner

  • is in Slovakia.
Re: Is This The End Of Retail?
« Reply #18 on: June 11, 2018, 09:23:37 am »
One role of the shop should be choosing which of the competing products that choice should be for each use case.

I am not sure I want my choice limited by a shop that thinks it knows best. What if it decided that SRAM is the most suitable product while I am searching for Campag?

Karla

  • car(e) free
    • Lost Byway - a Pacific bike ride
Re: Is This The End Of Retail?
« Reply #19 on: June 11, 2018, 09:28:57 am »
Since John Lewis has been mentioned, remember that a lot of the stuff we've used then for, even pre-internet, was the stuff that has to be delivered in a big van: white goods, furniture etc.  They've always had the shop-as-showroom model, along with the tempting extra stuff to buy while you're there looking at beds.  They've also done quite a good job of what Ben says: selecting a good version of each product to stock, so I can either faff around buying and returning things online or I can go to John Lewis and I can be fairly sure my trip won't be wasted.  That, combined with excellent customer service, has given people (or at least me) a lot of brand loyalty.  They're website's pretty good too.

Ben T

  • What you saying, then?
Re: Is This The End Of Retail?
« Reply #20 on: June 11, 2018, 09:35:12 am »
One role of the shop should be choosing which of the competing products that choice should be for each use case.

I am not sure I want my choice limited by a shop that thinks it knows best. What if it decided that SRAM is the most suitable product while I am searching for Campag?

That's like more of an ecosystem than a single product, so that's one exception to my idea that you have no real good reason for choosing one brand over another for something that does the same job.
But even so, the advice could still be "find a shop that specializes in/prefers campag".
This is destiny, it's fate, it's the matrix working in my favour.

Re: Is This The End Of Retail?
« Reply #21 on: June 11, 2018, 10:47:06 am »
I was reading something about the changes to business rates and what the House of Fraser stores were paying. Seemingly the Oxford St store's (which is closing) payable rates went from £2.96m in 16/17 to £4.3m in 17/18, and that was still to rise to over £5m by 21/22. I know that's one of the main retail hotspots in the country, but that still seems a hell of whack. My local one (Wolverhampton) was on £500k, and that's another closing too. The town centre was struggling enough as it is with plenty of empty units and a long history of redevelopments that never came to fruition. It's a very big and prominent store though, and it's really going to leave a big scar when it goes. Not surprising it did to be honest though as I don't really know who bothered going there anymore.

Torslanda

  • Professional Gobshite
  • Just a tart for retro kit . . .
    • John's Bikes
Re: Is This The End Of Retail?
« Reply #22 on: June 11, 2018, 10:57:40 am »
I'm more concerned for the economic impact of retail implosions. One constant in all of these contractions is that jobs go.

Poundlandworld has failed to secure funding/find a buyer/cobble a rescue package. The BBC says 5000 jobs are 'at risk'. I'll venture to suggest those jobs are gone. M&S plan to close 150 stores (I think). Those jobs will not be absorbed by the company.

Part of me (the capitalist) thinks that it's a product of market forces, companies being in the wrong sector or not maintaining their USP. If there's no reason to shop there then people won't.

Part of me (the socialist) sees it as a potential tragedy and while I'm not suggesting that Raining Stones or Boys From The Blackstuff will be reenacted across the country, I can't help feeling sympathy for those put in an impossible situation by being thrown out of work.

I can't solve this. And that bothers me too.
VELOMANCER

Well that's the more blunt way of putting it but as usual he's dead right.

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: Is This The End Of Retail?
« Reply #23 on: June 11, 2018, 10:59:13 am »
We recently calculated what it would cost to run a fabulous beer emporium on our local high street (and had chat with a couple who successfully run a similar enterprise). The sums weren't very favourable even for a niche product with reasonable margins. It might work but we'd need a fairly high sales volume and given the local area, that seemed a stretch (at least not for the risk averse like us). Costs for high street premises and rent were high (despite there being no shortage of vacancies and every new development coming with a blank ground floor shop space). Given that, it's hard to see feasibility of opening shops selling low margin goods where you're competing with supermarkets and the like.

It's the same story for non-chain restaurants, they simply can't consistently pull in the traffic to meet the excessive costs and I suspect that the few local restaurants that have survived for a while are one rent/rate rise from disappearing.

Like I say, having a decent high street is achievable, but it won't just come about organically. It requires thought and planning.
!nataS pihsroW

Re: Is This The End Of Retail?
« Reply #24 on: June 11, 2018, 11:11:48 am »
We all know that the majority of the population is wedded to their car and when you have the big stores such as Marks, John Lewis and all the other fashion brands available in out of town shopping ares with free parking, it makes no sense to drive into a congested urban centre, then pay £££££s for parking and spend the next few hours worrying about when your parking ticket expires.