- Created: Thursday, 29 March 2018 12:42
- Written by Brian Henry
For the second time in five years, ‘retail tsar’ Bill Grimsey is leading a ‘troubleshooting task force’ that aims to revive Britain’s half-empty high streets. It comes after two of Britain’s best-known retailers, Toys R Us and electronics specialist Maplin, collapsed into administration on the same day in February, putting 5,500 jobs at risk. Fashion retailer New Look then said up to 60 stores would close, putting almost 1,000 jobs at risk, and Conviviality, the company behind the off-licence chains Bargain Booze and Wine Rack, announced it would be appointing in administrators, threatening 2,600 jobs. Elsewhere, restaurant chains including Jamie Oliver, Prezzo and Byron have all announced closures amid a severe downturn in trading. In the first half of 2017, 14 shops closed every day. Britain’s semi-derelict town centres perfectly illustrate a decaying capitalism that needs to be put out of its misery. Brian Henry reports.
State of the nation of shopkeepers
See one town centre in Britain and you have seen them all. The same big name chains dominate: the same restaurants, the same bars, the same cinemas, the same music and fashion shops, all gleaming and soulless. Even knock-offs and tat have been monopolised by Sports Direct and Poundland. Variety and character be damned. This is the dreary monoculture of 21st century consumerism, the manifestation of the demands of capital accumulation. And yet, in the sixth richest country in the world, each of these mini corporate meccas is punctuated and surrounded by shuttered and abandoned shops and stores, skeletons scattered among their living conquerors. It’s a turf war, and the gang with the bigger muscle always wins.