The Full English Accompaniment – High Street Horrorshow

What’s piqued my interest this week?

What is happening to the British High St? Does a FIRE advocate really care?
For years now I’ve been buying things through the internet. It’s significantly cheaper, and totting up my purchases I reckon at least 50% is via Amazon/ eBay or other online retailers. I only go into town to shop if I need SOMETHING NOW, which points to piss poor planning, or if I’m after inspiration. Massive distribution centres like the one below and same day delivery means that the failure of planning is less of an issue too:

So what the hell is the High St for?

That seems to be a question plaguing retailers, with lots on the wane. Just in the last month we’ve had Poundworld shrinking (debate as to this being a bad thing), House of Fraser calling in KPMG, Debenhams and Mothercare issuing profit warnings, to add to the folding of Maplins and Toys ‘R’ Us:

Poundworld adds to retail gloom –

House of Fraser calls in KPMG to draw up turnaround plan -

The ONS is blaming this on the snow:

UK economy in weakest growth since 2012 –

Which I think makes about as much sense as blaming Stalin for the current Tory government. Tenuous.

It feels to be part of a wider consumerism shift towards online and digital usage and away from browsing shops in town. Banks are moving this way too, with Lloyds shutting a string of branches:

Incidentally, I recommend going back and listening to a recent Radio 4 Moneybox where they interview an RBS executive about the closure of rural RBS banks. His summary is no matter how much people complain about wanting local banks, small branches being important etc, RBS are following people’s actions not words. People aren’t going into branch anymore.

This weeks news that Asda and Sainsbury are considering merging is also interesting.

They talk of a shake up from what they call ‘the discounters’ Aldi and Lidl. I predominantly shop at the Aldidl, but this is made possible because of online purchasing of things not held in stock. Shopping there is going in, knowing what you want, getting it, paying as little as possible and leaving.

Is the business model for the High St changing? The following article from the BBC makes a lots of sense:

Why shopping needs to be more fun –

And the turnaround at Waterstone’s seems to mirror the picture that in order to survive, businesses on the High St have to change to provide something not available online. A personal touch to sales, or something more? Toys ‘R’ Us and Maplins were late to that party. Mothercare, House of Fraser and Debenhams seem to be waiting in invitations.

Big changes in the nature of the retail market matter to FIRE advocates, as like any market, diversification means you probably have a toe dipped in these investments. If you’re lucky it’s one of the clued up retailers. Either way, this is just the musing of one bored professional.

Happy weekend!

The FIRE Shrink

Side orders:

This week I’ve mainly been reading new blogs.

I’ve been learning about basic investing with the diy investor (uk) –

And of course Monevator’s passive investing –

YoungFIGuy’s guide to Safe Withdrawal Rates –

And more domestically, cheap eats from Frugal Feeding –

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