30 November 2008

S' long, Woolies (the denuding of the High Street)

I remember Woolworth’s five & dime from my childhood; they pretty much vanished from my geographic region by the 1980s, and they pretty much vanished period in the 1990s.

The United Kingdom has remained one of the last bastions of the Woolworth shop (the UK Woolworth group broke away from the US-based group in the early 1980s). "Woolies" is a consistent presence on the UK High Street, offering everything from magazines and “pic & mix” sweets to plastic goods and children’s clothing at fairly inexpensive prices.

However, due to the economic crisis, Woolies went into administration on Wednesday. Although the stores will remain open over the holiday season, unless the chain can find a buyer, 815 stores will close and tens of thousands of employees will be out of work.

Other major British retailers entering administration: PC World, MFI, and Curry's join Woolworth's. Ilva and Roseby's died in September. This means that my family's seaside town will feature a significant increase in empty High Street storefronts and deserted box stores lurking on street corners. Sadly, a significant portion of the community works in these shops, so an already depressed area will grow ever more so.

(Aside: fond memories of the ever-reliable Woolies. I bought both my last vinyl single and my last cassette single at a UK Woolworths).

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