Scary reading for retailers this morning: according to a study by acountant Wilkins Kennedy, the number of retail insolvencies has jumped by 12%, from 1,149 in 2012/13 to 1,287 in the last 12 months.
It’s frightening, not least when you consider that although parts of the economy are recovering, some have fared less well than others: productivity, for example, is still 16% below pre-crisis levels, even though unemployment is almost back to its original point. Are we about to end up in another situation where large, well-established retailers are disappearing from our high streets at the rate of one a day?
Not really, admits Wilkins Kennedy: unfortunately, the big insolvency trend over the last 12 months was not Woolworths-alikes, but small, independent convenience stores, which are being pushed out by supermarkets.
‘The convenience store market is the one store format in which all of the major supermarkets continue to expand aggressively… the big supermarket chains now have more than 2,300 convenience stores and are adding to these rapidly – with Morrisons the latest to step up activity in this area.’
The meaner among us might point out it’s a rare cornershop that can compete with the well-stocked, airy supermarket convenience format which comes complete with a wide range of high-quality produce. But the prospect of the local convenience store disappearing from the UK’s high streets altogether is a bleak one. Sadly, it seems inevitable.