It is sad to hear that one of the mainstays of every British high street has called in the administrators with a debt of £385 million. The problem is it's a 20th century shop, struggling to survive in the 21st century. It sells sweets, great, but this can't be the foundation for a strong business model today. It sells CDs and DVDs, but with the advent of online downloading or buying from the supermarkets for half the price, how can it possibly compete? It has always had a huge toy department, and whilst my son still loves to have a wander around the shelves, most of the kids today would rather spend their Christmas or birthday money on the latest Xbox 360 classic "Ninjas with rifles shoot bad people in a middle eastern city."
In the past few years we've seen Woolies diversify into 'housewares', selling things like toasters, and even my cordless drill. The problem is it's not cheap there. For it to survive it needed a kick up the jacksy 10 years or more ago, and whilst they are a valued retailer in everyone's mind, people are still not prepared to spend twice as much as their local out of town Tesco or Asda.
I, meanwhile, will always remember Woolworths in my childhood as the place where I got my first record ("Get Down Shep" by the Barron Knights), where I got my first black and white passport photo taken for a whole 50p, and where BLS get her first Saturday job.
Oh how times are changing.
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