The High Street implosion is just beginning

highstreetI had a look at the BBC News website’s business page yesterday. What do you think caught my eye?

UK retail sales fall in December

It seems sales dropped off by 0.1 per cent (seasonally adjusted figure) last month, while the quantity of goods sold rose (rose? shurely shome mishtake, unless prices have magically dropped) by a worse-than-expected 0.3 per cent.

Isn’t December supposed to be the busiest shopping month of the year, with everyone rushing to buy Christmas presents and get the food in? I know the news wasn’t totally awful – sales were still up 0.7 per cent on the same time last year – but it does look like a darkening of the skies before the storm blows in.

Online sales increased, as one should reasonably expect – this is the current trend. But what I found worrying was the drop in sales of both clothing and food. They did “notably badly”, according to the BBC.

I would have thought these were two sales areas that would be relatively internet-proof. With clothing and food (and furniture), people like to see what they’re getting. They want to test it first, to make sure it fits their standards.

My concept of the High Street of the Future would have included clothes shops (or boutiques if you want to be all King’s Road about it), grocery stores (not necessarily supermarkets – how about farm-gate stores or farmers’ markets?), furniture stores, chemists and hairdressers/barbers. With possibly the odd gadget/technology shop for people who don’t trust the postman with fragile items. Also private doctor and dentist surgeries, for those who can afford to pay for them as the future gets worse for the NHS.

The rest will probably go. Blockbuster is closing 160 stores, according to the BBC business site today. That doesn’t surprise me in the least. Bosses should have seen the writing on the wall, when digital delivery became an option, and diversified into it. They didn’t; LoveFilm and the like took over and that was that. People who like holding physical copies of movies in their hands can get them from the glorified mail-order companies like Amazon, if they don’t mind giving their money to tax avoiders.

That’s why HMV lost the battle last week. Now I see that Game wants to buy some HMV stores. Wasn’t Game itself in danger of going out of business last April? I think it was, and I wouldn’t expect a business bought by such a firm to last very long, for that reason alone.

We have already discussed, in a previous article, the demise of Jessop’s.

To cap it all, panellists on the BBC’s Question Time last Thursday said a further 140 UK high street shopping chains were facing severe financial difficulty. One hundred and forty!

And that’s just at the moment.

What will happen after the government’s cuts to benefits kick in, ensuring that the poorest in the country, who use the highest proportion of their money as they receive it, have much, much less cash to spend?

Think of the rise in unemployment, as one retail chain after another hits the dirt. The growth in demand for social security (the government calls it “welfare”) benefits; the need to borrow even more money, increase the national debt even further; the increasing number of derelict buildings as our cities’ shops go empty – along with more and more homes, as families fail to keep up rent payments (their benefits won’t cover it) and they get kicked out onto the street; the lights going off across the UK as the Tory-led Coalition, helped by the Liberal Democrats, turns our home towns into ghost towns.

Let’s pause for a moment to remember that the Coalition government inherited an economy that was growing. It wasn’t booming, obviously, but it was going in the right direction. The very first thing this government did was kill that growth, and much of its economic policy since 2010 has been intended to make sure it stays dead.

To shrink the state. To starve the beast.

To end the social security system.

To privatise the NHS.

To increase unemployment.

To keep wages low – and maybe even find opportunities to cut them.

We’ve got two more years with these chumps in charge. That’s plenty of time to ruin the UK beyond repair – or at least so badly that it will take decades to recover.

I think it’s time to put serious effort into making life as difficult as possible for them. we’ve had a few demonstrations in London over the last couple of years – perhaps it’s time to start putting something up every week, even if it has to start with only a couple of people standing outside the Houses of Parliament with banners saying “Coalition Out” and “Resign”.

If they want information from you, in order to put their changes into practice, find a way to slow the process as much as possible – obviously not in situations where there’s a threat to life and limb, but in other administrative ways, why not? Think of it this way: They want to complicate your life – why not return the favour?

In employment law, there is an offence called ‘Constructive Dismissal’. This is when an employer contrives to make a particular employee’s working life so difficult that he or she is effectively forced out the door. There is no such offence relating to the way a nation treats its government.

I’m not an advocate of violence; I’ll take passive resistance every time.

So let’s constructively dismiss the Coalition.

How about it?

19 thoughts on “The High Street implosion is just beginning

  1. The Great Unrepresented

    It won’t be easy to dislodge these parasites, the electoral process is now wholly discredited; the ConDem junta is an unelected cabal of two election-losing parties.
    Now that capitalism is a dying force, the unelected government for & by the extremely rich have only one goal; to cushion themselves against whatever will be capitalism’s immediate replacement. They are pathologically unable to consider the consequences of their actions on other people, particularly pother people with whom they did not attend Eton with.
    Passive resistance? Like a hunger strike? They’re already making that compulsory for hundreds of thousands of Britons monthly.

  2. Duncan McLean (@A_D_McLean)

    Despite the coalition having minority representation in Scotland, we are also affected by their misguided policies, and now await the the slew of cuts being pushed through Westminster. The lack of a mandate for these policies in Scotland is of growing importance in the Independence Referendum debate.

    Members of the pro-union Better Together campaign, which encompasses both coalition parties and Labour’s Scottish representatives, claim that only 12% of Scots population make any contribution to the economy, and describe Scotland as a ‘something for nothing country’ because we remain committed to an NHS free at the point of need, to free personal care, and to higher education based on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay. These progressive policies were in the manifestos on which about 80% of the members of the Scottish Parliament were elected in 2011. Thankfully, the STUC has refused to endorse Better Together’s right wing campaign.

    As we move towards the referendum in 2014, it will become clearer that our choice is to vote No and endorse the kind of policies pursued by the coalition and opposed by Miliband and Balls on purely opportunistic grounds, or vote Yes, letting us build a country committed to the values that have dominated Scottish politics for decades.

    The signs are that the coalition may not hold on in 2015, even in England. But, the 2014 referendum campaign, which is now under way, provides an opportunity to generate support for the kind of radical change that Labour shied away from even when elected with an overwhelming majority. Imagine how much weaker Cameron will be in 2015 if he is not only presiding over a noxious, failing government, but is also the man who lost Scotland for the union. Labour might even get some new MPs elected with a commitment to social justice.

    Those who want to see real progress in British politics should put pressure on Labour to mark their disgust at the policies of the Coalition Government by withdrawing from co-operating with the Tories and LibDems in the Better Together campaign.

    1. Mike Sivier

      That’s a really interesting comment. Do you think that Scottish people would become inclined to rejoin the Union (if Scotland does indeed opt out), if a Labour government was elected in 2015 that distanced itself from NeoLiberal policies and took a more ‘traditional Labour’ stance?

      1. Duncan McLean (@A_D_McLean)

        Independence is unlikely to be reversed – that hasn’t happened for any of the 150 or so independent countries that have emerged over the past 50 years. Indeed, following the 2014 referendum, the actual date of independence is likely to be beyond the 2015 General Election.

        Following independence, new structures would take forward a different relationship – through both successor states negotiating terms of membership of the EU for example, and new relationships being forged through the already established British-Irish Council.

        The challenge to the left in rUK will be to use the disruptive effect of the dissolution of the union to pull voters back from UKIP and the ‘Little Englander’ mentality that now dominates politics in Westminster. Both of us will benefit from losing a slew of right wing Labour MPs, who were happy to give Blair majorities for policies such as university top up fees (that worked out well didn’t it) and moves to privatise the NHS that would apply south of the border but wouldn’t affect their own constituents.

  3. David Elms

    To get rid of this Government is easier said than done and if successful we have no alternative .Ed Balls robbed the pension fund of £5 billion without batting an eyelid he systematically stated if in power he would sell of G4 and use the money to build affordable housing the Tories have already done that – just one example of we do not have an alternative .

  4. sallyb41

    Yep, sounds like the time has come. Because as yet more places go to the wall, more will become (in the words of our crap government) “shirkers”……how many more will it have to affect before we have riots?

  5. MaryMary

    That’s not a serious suggestion, by the way, just in case GCHQ is tuning in….I just think it’s a brilliant story.

    1. Duncan McLean (@A_D_McLean)

      Why is it not a serious suggestion that legislation / regulation should prevent private banks from taking huge personal and corporate benefits and then, when they drive over the precipice of greed, passing the consequences on to the taxpayer?

  6. stephen

    five shops including a Barclays bank to close in my high street near Erith Kent, together with, Jessops, Block Buster and Comet that’s almost 50 jobs gone in my area alone in a few weeks. Multiply that be every town , village and city in the UK and Britain is in a deep recession. All because the Tories and the Lib-Dems cant understand the economic theory of spending your way out of a recession rather than bolting down the hatches methodology they have adopted. Things can only escalate out of control with this lot at the helm.

  7. Silver

    The trouble with the ConDem economics is,they have taken most of the money from the little people that spend,and put it in the hands of the very wealthy who will invest it elsewhere,probably not the UK.

    This coming year will see if this ConDemnation of a Government changes course or not.What with the benefit cap,the bedroom tax and the poorest paying rates or whatever its called now,out of the little they have.I thing riots may well happen

    If things change for the better,or worse after that I am not sure.Because I get the impression the Government is pushing for a conflict with its own citizens..

  8. CH

    The first step of the process leading to the collapse of East Germany’s former stalinist regime were regular Monday afternoon rallies, which initially were quite poorly attended….

  9. Cheltenham Against Cuts

    There is a very important connection between the employed and the unemployed which the government is desperate to conceal using its striver/skiver rhetoric. The think-tank the “Resolution Foundation” produced a report in September entitled “The chilling impact of unemployment on real wages”
    which shows how quickly wages are being pushed down by mass unemployment. As wages fall the government`s cynical logic that “work must pay” gives them the pretext to cut benefit levels. This makes the fear of unemployment greater amongst those lucky enough to have a job, helping employers to force down wages further.

    In February 2008, when the prospect of a recession in the UK was being debated, the Daily Telegraph published a revealing interview with former City financier David Freud – who had been appointed by Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2006 to provide an “independent” review of the so-called welfare-to-work system. In the interview Freud claimed that he thought it was possible to get “about 1.4 million back to work”. By the time the final question of the interview came around he seemed to have forgotten the need to pretend he favoured an economy with lower unemployment, and when asked whether he thought there will be a recession, he replied “Yes, because we should have recessions every five or six years and we are due one”.
    This was one of the very rare instances of a politician publicly departing from the mantra of claiming to want an economy that will produce “jobs and growth”.

  10. viv

    Why is it now normal to speak of welfare instead of Social Security & efficiency savings instead of cuts. I fin myself indulging in sad behaviour ,like screaming at the T.V. when i hear these weasal words.

    1. Mike Sivier

      This is something that have have noticed as well; that’s why I try to change references to “welfare” back into “social security” where I can. Some people might not see the point – it’s just semantics, isn’t it? Well, yes and no. The words represent a choice, in this case between demeaning the status of the people claiming benefit, and granting them a modicum of dignity. I’ll go for the latter every time – and I question people who do otherwise.

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