Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Woolies Goes West

The closing dates of Thanet's Woolworths stores have been announced.

Margate and Ramsgate stores will close on 27th December and Cliftonville and Broadstairs on 30th December, ending 99 years of high street trading and wiping out 27,000 permanent and temporary jobs. How many local jobs will be involved I don't know but it's a terrible Christmas tragedy for all the hard-working staff at the four stores which have served the people of the island for so long.

What comes next I don't know. I've noticed that one of the estate agents in Westgate, Miles & Barr now has a sign in its window saying that the business has been transferred to another office and the new pet shop in Station Road has lasted less than a month. There's a notice in the window this morning saying that it has closed and the busienss has been transferred to Northdown Road in Cliftonville.

In January, I wouldn't be surprised to see another rash of closures, local and national as businesses of all kinds and sizes, predicted by the BBC, are faced by the prospect of paying both their rates in advance and their VAT.

Word on the street is that one of the largest national electrical goods outlets is struggling to survive the holiday and stores are expected to slash their prices to the bone for January sales which are likely to start before we even unwrap the traditional Christmas presents.

If you didn't know already, today's Times points out that £500 billion or around £8,000 each, is a conservative estimate of what taxpayers, you and me included, are paying for Gordon Brown's plan to bail out the UK banking system. The three-part package includes committing up to £50 billion of taxpayer funds for a part-nationalisation of Lloyds TSB, HBOS and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which is now 57 per cent owned by you and me.

£500 billion is a staggering amount of money, equivalent to 4,000 brand new hospitals (at £125 million each), 16 new high speed rail links between London, the north of England and Scotland or 37,000 Jamie Oliver-approved free school meals for each and every pupil in the UK. Instead, writes The Times, they'll be eating turkey twizzlers!


Michael Child said...

It was the VAT that reduction that made me particularly annoyed, both because it is very difficult and expensive to implement and because it makes such a small tangible difference to most prices.

Here in Thanet the retail sector is going to be particularly hard hit because the overall retail space has increased so much recently, this massive increase in retail area mostly was dependant on people buying with credit.

In my own trade, books, 2 retailers have opened at Westwood Cross both with more floor area and stock value than all of the previously existing floor area and book stock in Thanet.

This presupposes that somehow suddenly between 4 and 10 times the amount of books will be sold in Thanet, where do these sales come from?

Major said...

And of course the book store in Northdown Rd Cliftonville has sadly closed a couple of months ago.
And TDC said the development of Westwood Cross would not kill the existing specialist High Street retailers!
We are left with an increasingly boring selection of big stores and are losing the interesting independent shops.
And all because the TDC councillors at the time felt they had to keep up with Canterbury!