Business ecommerce

High street shop closures

I was walking past a shop on Steep Hill in Lincoln on Friday night and noticed that it was closing down. It’s happening all over the place. I have a friend who has closed the doors on his tailoring business as he couldn’t afford the rent and rates. This seems to be a trend.

I don’t know the story behind the shop in the photo but it is interesting to note that the business is continuing on the www where it won’t have the same overheads. A sign of the times. The shape of things to come. The harsh reality of the present.

high street shop closure

Trefor Davies

By Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of, writer, poet,

10 replies on “High street shop closures”

It’s the same in my home town of Poole, where the situation has become so serious that over one third of all the local high street shops have closed down. As ever this is due to the combination of rising rents/taxes vs lower footfall, much of which can probably be attributed to the current economic woes (lost jobs or lower wages = less spending money).

Some towns are tackling this by holding more events to attract visitors, providing money to improve local shops and or freezing rents. But these initiatives are rarely distributed evenly and usually end up benefitting the bigger / central shops than the smaller outlets.

I’m sure the internet has played its part as well. For example a sweet shop recently opened up in the high street, which gets a lot of browsers but very few buyers. Part of that is because they’re charging about 3-4 times more than the same products can be purchased for online. I don’t expect them to be around for long.

IMO if local towns want to compete with the internet and tackle the difficult economic climate then what they need to encourage is more low-cost local markets and stalls. The towns that still encourage this bring in more people and appear more competitive / vibrant because they can offer products that compete with online prices. A radical re-think is required and sometimes lessons from the past can help in the present.

Rents and rates has always been an issue including before the internet boom. I onced live near Burnt Oak in Edgware. Watling Avenue is a disgrace, its just a row of pound shops selling cheap tat and international foods, these shops will be under new ownership or closed down by the end of every year. They have never lasted long.

Now where I am living we have lost Prezzo,one of 2 EE shops,oddbins,Ha!Ha! Bar and canteen and soon Sports direct. Those are big brands we also lost a few non chain shops, a book shop which has been around for 40 years and so on.

Sports direct occupies what used to be Woolworths, and EE occupies what used to be The Link and the BT shop.

So you see, they are just gonna lay empty or keep opening and closing.

There’s got to be an element of property owners being in denial about the falling value of their assets. Regeneration in a recession relies on this but such is the national fetish with property that people want to play King Canute with prices.

You are right Andrew – that’s what happened with my tailor friend. He asked the landlord to reduce the rent but got short shrift. It will be interesting to see how long the property lies empty.

Sad image or the future? Well it’s the future… Sorry but we need to get used to it as we caused it.

If I want a vacuum cleaner, dishwasher, cooker, washing machine I go to Currys etc. to look at the product before going online and usinq quidco, topcashback, hot UK deals etc to find the best price and voucher codes so that I can buy it cheaper on-line. I then use my credit card so that my online purchase is secured against item failure or company insolvency.

I’m actually surprised that there are any car dealers left when, for the past 2-3 purchases I have only ever used them for test drives, all purchasing has been done via the interweb.

This is our future, caused by our desire for cheaper purchases..

I imagine most people make their purchases exactly as you describe. I certainly do although sometimes it is more convenient to be able to pick something up there and then and take it home even though it might cost you more.

I know a chap who works at a car dealership in Lincoln and he says they are booming.

Personally I prefer to use independent retailers as much as possible. There’s a wonderful bookshop (Strays) in Newark which is run and staffed by people that love literature and they are very knowledgeable. I can go in and chat to them about authors/books that I have enjoyed in the past and they will recommend a new author or publication for me – you don’t get that service in WH Smith. The books in Strays might cost a little more, but they have a loyalty scheme which means that, overall, the price difference between them and WH Smith is negligible.

I’m also more inclined to buy something in a shop than order online if I have received good customer support while trying to choose a product. If a shop assistant or salesperson has been helpful then I think it’s only fair for him to get the commission for the sale. Yes, I could probably save 5% by shopping online, but the end of the day, do I really care about an extra £25 on the cost of a TV if it’s keeping someone in a job?

That said, with expensive items, if I know exactly what I want and need no help from a salesperson then I will go online and find the cheapest possible option if I can wait a couple of days for delivery. It doesn’t happen often though, as I usually need all the help I can get! 🙂

Many retailer are incredibly cautious about any UK expansions plans and the strategy will now focus on growing internationally instead. A great interview last year with chief executive of a leading UK high street retailer.

“At our store in the Metro Centre in Newcastle we pay £160,000 a year in business rates on one 2,000sq ft shop. It basically makes the store completely unviable. “How the hell can the council justify that? For a comparable store in the US and Germany, we would pay local taxes of just £10,000. When we sit down and explain this to our American owners, they say, ‘What are you getting for this £160,000?’ and we actually have no idea.”

The UK has become “clone high streets” Four in ten of the country’s towns have become clones, full of national chain identikit stores and devoid of local character.


I think some things are probably fairly, but not completely, safe from all this. For example, clothes and food. Clothing tends to have exclusivity deals with certain distributors and the price online is usually in parity with the offline price, plus you often need to try clothes before buying.

Similarly food is something that you really need to see with your own eyes and you often only get free delivery when ordering over £50 online, which makes it better to visit the supermarket.

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