Philip Green’s Arcadia group on a knife-edge as creditors vote on rescue plan at midday today.
The Arcadia Group has a whole host of well known chains that are very prominent on our high streets, including Burtons, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Miss Selfridge, Top Man, Top Shop, Wallis. They have hundreds of outlets throught the country and employ many thousands of people – including many of our locals.
Whatever the decision today, over time, it’s likely that the result will have some impact on the business and also a whole host of local people. It has the potential to change the landscape of the high street locally and across the UK.
Internet, Online Ordering & Leisure Time
Arcadia’s fortunes are not helped by the rise in internet shopping. For the three months to 31st May 2019, Boohoo Group Plc has posted a revenue increase of 39 percent. UK sales alone were up 27%.
Online ordering is still growing. Most people have a smart phone with them pretty much 24/7, so it’s no surprise that they order online ‘on-demand’ whilst ‘on the go’. That doesn’t just apply to physical goods … streaming of music, TV, films and computer games is very direct and on-demand too.
The online retailers very often have their services tuned to what the public want … fast and efficient. Delivery is on demand and at the customer’s convenience. Take this scenario: It’s 9pm, Tuesday night … you’re busy all week during the day … but you need an outfit for partying on Fri night? No problem. Pick up your phone, go online, order two or three dresses. They’ll most likely arrive tomorrow. You like one, so you keep it. The others are returned in the pre-supplied returns bags. Returns are often free or re-paid and is generally a breeze. 5-10 mins .. job done .. only thing is, perhaps, that you’ve missed a bit of Love Island, dropped a bit of pizza on your PJs and you can text your mates to make sure they don’t buy the same one …! Then there’s Friday night antics, but that’s another story!
This overall behaviour maximises an individual ‘leisure time’ as pretty much all need to venture into the outside world is eliminated (except for work, friends, family & leisure activities, of course). It’s quite clear that fighting this behavioural pattern would be quite risky – perhaps a better option would be to embrace it by also offering such services, even locally?
Big companies can deliver goods to your door the next day and they can do so with great efficiency … even if you’re ordering late on the previous evening.
The future of your high street?
For our young generation, online shopping has wiped out all concept of shopping 9am-5pm and even the idea of being allowed to close on any day is obsolete. In terms of the high street, the law hasn’t quite caught up with that concept. Like it or now, shopping is now 24/7. It’s no surprise, why our high streets tend to morph to very specialist or niche shops or simply those that provide products & services that are pretty much restricted to local delivery (food, drinks, barbers, hairdressers etc).
We can all argue the rights or wrongs, if’s & but’s … but it’s pretty clear that local businesses have their work cut out if they are to prosper. Whatever happens, the actions of every individual person will collectively shape the high street and the facilities in town centre’s.
Local Newspapers & Media
Many of our local newspapers are also under threat. Johnston Press – the company that produces the Colne Times, Nelson Leader, Burnley Express etc – has already briefly dipped into administration last year. It’s still trading, but has been steadily cutting staff for years and the remaining staff are trying their very best (an impossible task given their workload). We did a story on the loss of their in-the-field reporters & photographers quite a while ago. This has spread to other newspapers too … they’re all suffering.
Look at the recent absorption of 2BR radio into Capital. 2BR was based near Accrington, whilst Capital has moved operations to Manchester/London. The 2BR website has now disappeared … along with much local news & information.