English: Commemorative plaque, The house where Margaret Thatcher was born, Grantham Français : Plaque commémorative, Maison natale de Margaret Thatcher, Grantham (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Dr Alf makes very good points in this article and frankly it is no surprise to me that UK retailing is in such a mess.
The Government, with its present policies, has reduced disposable income for the average family of 4 to just £97 gbp and 80% of people who have bank accounts have less than £500 gbp in them at any one time.
This results in people buying goods on the internet using credit cards whilst the companies which lead in internet shopping like Amazon, pay just 3% Corporation Tax.
The same Government refuses to consolidate local authorities, constabularies, fire commands and the Civil Service thus creating a situation where the ordinary taxpayer is more heavily taxed than they need to be leaving people without money to spend. Local Authorities waste money on high salaries for their Chief Executives and “Portfolio Holders” and waste money on junketing, poor purchasing and nefarious practices with regard to planning permission which hold up legitimate development and further diminish the High Street. They also fail to do anything meaningful about reforming Adult Social Care which accounts for 50% of relevant council budgets. To pay for their profligacy and mismanagement they charge business rates which are too high, impose parking charges which drive people away from the High Street and deliberately provide too few car parking spaces whilst at the same time employing armies of car parking wardens to harass the substance out of the public and extract as much money from them as possible.
Retailers, in many cases, are their own worst enemies as my former mother in law from America remarked when she experienced first hand what it was like to have food thrown at you in a supermarket before being asked to pay for it. The Basil Fawlty mentality whereby everything moves slowly except for the operation of the till is very much alive and well.
Similarly, go on holiday and after you have returned home, try to go into somewhere like PC World and buy a computer with Euros or some other currency and you will be told that they will only take pounds.
Standards of customer care in the UK are a disgrace and are made worse by the application of zero hours contracts and abysmally low pay which would make the most mild-mannered person sullen and unpleasant simply because they hate their retailing jobs.
The Sunday trading laws are another anachronism which damages the High Street because it restricts hours of operation to suit the Lord’s Day Observance Society and the UDSAW Trades Union, rather than tourists with money and those members of the UK public with money and a willingness to spend it.
Mary Portas, “Mary Queen of Shops“, was tasked by the Government with developing strategies to revitalize the High Street. Personally, I think she is onto a hiding to nothing because many of the public have no interest in supporting it, as evidenced by the practice of entering a bookshop with an I Phone, scanning the product code and then ordering it online whilst in the bookshop coffee shop. This practice extended to other areas of retailing will sound the death knell for the High Street but with the connivance of Government, local authorities and the police who do not do enough to ensure that shopping can be conducted without the risks of pickpockets, credit card scammers, muggers and bag snatchers making the experience unpleasant and in some cases dangerous.
Dr Alf asks if we can remember a time when a Conservative Government stood for the interests of business. That time did exist under Margaret Thatcher, but now the only business interests that are looked after are those of the City and large global multinationals who do most of their business elsewhere in the world.