Sunday, 30 November 2008

Depressed before Christmas

Well, it was the start of Christmas shopping yesterday so we went off to Exeter. I had been ill for two days beforehand so we didnt get there until about 3:30 but that was fine. We only intended to get a bit of a head start as the main attack on the shopping will be next weekend when Christopher will be going too.

Exeter was busy enough for the time of day and it was really chilly - typical Christmassy conditions.

Typical that is, until we went into Woolworths. The place looked like it had been burgled. There were empty shelves, the aisles were littered with stacks of cardboard and there was hardly anyone in there shopping. At one point I could see from one end of the store to the other without a single person in the aisle. The CD/DVD shelves behind the counter were becoming empty - surely not sold out already, lack of supply I suspect? I have heard that the company is £385 million in the red and that some suppliers are no longer providing goods on credit. We went upstairs to have a cup of coffee and it was like the Marie Celeste - fewer shoppers and the cafe was pretty much deserted.

Woolworths is a shop that I have grown up with. Literally my earliest shopping experiences are of a Woolworths where I used to live and its quirky, special sort of feeling. It has wooden tile floors (parquet?) and almost everything you could want to buy - clothes, sweets, toys, hardware, garden furniture, records (you know, vinyl 45s and 33s), newspapers and magazines, radios, .. the list would go on and on. That particular shop shut a long long time ago as that town was generally in decline but another close by is still there.

I have enjoyed taking my children into Woolies - one to view the toys at first and then he moved onto PC and console games, the other to look at magazines and music.

I have a sad feeling that they wont be taking their children in.

815 stores;
25000 staff;
founded in UK 99 years ago;
apart from the public facing shops there is also a CD/DVD media distribution arm that supplies other stores such as WHSmith, Zavvi and Asda. They are having to find other suppliers - with 4 weeks to go to Christmas.

Spending The Woolworth Billions

not sure if its connected but the Woolworths website is offline as I write this...

/* UPDATE */
Monday 1st December
The BBC website is saying the Woolworths website has been suspended and that there are several parties interested in parts of the business.

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