Express & Star comment: Collapses are blow for high street

By Star Comment | Opinions | Published:

Rumours about growing problems on the high street have been swirling around for months now.

The Oldbury store in its heyday

But for more than 5,500 shop workers those rumours have become a grim reality as both Toys R Us and the Maplin electronics chain crashed into administration yesterday.

While no shops face closure so far, it cannot be long until the administrators of each company start the process of shutting down those branches that are losing most money.

And that will mean the start of the miserable process of job cuts.

For many these two company failures will have come as a shock. Surely everyone is in need of toys for the children or electronic bits and pieces in these modern, hi-tech times?

But, with inflation rising and wages failing to keep pace, we are all more cautious in how we spend our money.

The boss at Maplin has blamed Brexit and its impact on the pound, as well as the withdrawal of vital credit insurance.

The reality, however, is that both Maplin and Toys R Us are up against the seemingly unstoppable dominance of internet stores like Amazon.

If people can buy what they need cheaper online, then our high streets and shopping centres will lose out.


Toys R Us has sought to modernise, coming up with a new, smaller and more family-friendly format, but it looks like a case of too little, too late.

Time had passed for its famously big out-of-town branches.

Every effort will be made to find new buyers for these businesses, or at least the more profitable parts of them, but for many – if not most – of the workforce it will mean a desperate search for a new job.

In this modern world where most families see both husband and wife out at work, the loss of a wage is inevitably the cause of great difficulties.


And as more store chains fail, joining the the likes of BHS, Comet, Blockbuster and, of course, Woolworths, the opportunities for new jobs on the high street seems to be shrinking.

The way we shop, and how we shop, has been changing drastically over the last decade. Retail has always been subject to dramatic change and shifts in fashions, but never more so than in recent years.

Many companies have learned to adapt quickly, mixing online shopping with the way they run their bricks and mortar stores. But others are simply not quick enough on their feet and have failed to keep pace with their customers.

Only one end awaits.


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