Given the news this week aroud the retail sector, it’s hard to feel too optimistic about the high street and many of the names we have come to know and depend upon.
Homebase is still facing huge challenges as are New Look, Carpetright and Mothercare, while Maplin has gone and Toys R Us is to follow before the month’s end.
There was an additional shock this week when Littlewoods owner Shop Direct announced it is to close three of its warehouses in Greater Manchester, putting close to 2,000 jobs at risk.
The online retailer, which also owns Very.co.uk, said it plans to open up an automated warehouse in the East Midlands where just 500 people will work with an additional 200 and 300 agency workers at peak times.
It’s a truism that change is a constant: a 100 year-old News Letter reader was once asked what he’d done for a living and said he’d made string until sellotape came along and they were “all thrown out”.
But, alongside the impact on jobs, the shift in the retail sector raises huge questions over how we raise taxes to pay for services.
The business community is about to go through another rates re-evaluation which is unlikely to offer any meaningful relief when the pressure on trade has never been greater as people buy less and less stuff in shops.
Again, this week we learned that sales of diesel cars dropped by 40% in March, prompted by growing indications that they are to be legislated out of the market.
On Friday Jaguar Land Rover announced it is to let go 1,000 contract workers in response to the fall in diesel sales and also amid the ongoing confusion over Brexit.
Move forward to the day when it’s no longer viable for garages to carry diesel. With demand for petrol also falling, what will be the impact on one presently thriving part of the retail world the symbol stores allied to fuel sales that have seen expansion in recent years.
How will the dynamic work when it’s not worth carrying fuel because most people are charging their cars at home?
And, as we contemplate the imminent closure of Kilroot and a long wait for the North South interconnector, where will the power come from to chargeall the new electric cars?
Pay attention, it’s all going to to change again soon.