It is interesting to note that even in these difficult times nearly all of the Woolworth stores that fell empty with the collapse of the retailer at the start of the current financial problems are now nearly all re-occupied.
This does give some hope for our town centres. The Portas report has highlighted the plight of our nations town centres and has come up with some interesting (and some blindingly obvious) suggestions. It remains to be seen which recommendations the Government take up from the report, sadly they will probably be the cheapest to carry out and not necessarily the best ones! But at least it is a move in the right direction – although I am a strong believer in the fact that it is the supermarkets who have killed our town centres more than any other thing – more on that next week.
However, the old adage, “location, location, location” is as true today as it has ever been, and it is good to see that most of the ‘woollies’ which were always well positioned in most town centres have found new tenants. Yes, most will be pound shops or similar (no one else will take these large units) but at least it keeps some activity in the good areas of the towns.
As we hear about the problems of some of our larger retailers over the last few weeks (Peacocks etc) spare a thought for the small independent shop – it is time to support the small local trader more than ever, this is the only thing that will enable our suburban and small town centres to survive – you have been warned!
Now I will be the first to admit that I am always drawn to Apple stores, if there is one in the city I am visiting I have to go – there are two reasons;
Firstly (and I am not embarrassed to admit this), I covet all items made by Apple and just love playing with them in store! It is a great ‘hands on experience’. And that brings me to the second reason.
All Apple stores are special places to visit. Even the ‘basic’ ones will have a glass staircase, and the more ‘exotic’ ones are always a feast for the eyes. Have a look at the Covent Garden store next time you are in London, it’s amazing!
Apple have managed to make visiting their retail outlets a ‘feel good’ event – pretty handy really as they are a premium priced product as well!
So I suppose when Microsoft started opening retail outlets it was only to be expected, (although as a software company it still seems rather weird to me). But, as part of the great PC / Mac battle I suppose it was inevitable. Although I can’t see myself making a beeline to the Microsoft store over the Apple store anytime soon.
This week has however seen the next big retail offering from the world of software – or more accurately search engines. Google has quietly opened its first “Google store” in London. The store, which at this point only sells Chromebooks and accessories, is actually a 285 square foot store within a store, as it’s situated inside of the Tottenham Court Road PC World. Now, 285 sq ft is kiosk territory, so it is a very small start, but no doubt as with all things Google it is the start of something big – although rather pointless in my opinion.
Quite why Google and Microsoft feel they must have retail outlets beats me (especially as Apple are moving towards download only software) – no doubt they will be a feature of our High Streets in years to come – but I for one won’t be visiting.