Woolworths UK closes

Posted by Isobel Drake on 24th December 2008

Woolworths UK Closes     

Long been a part of the retail offering in Britain where families on a budget could find everything from chocolate and toys to toiletries, socks & jocks and stationery, Woolworths in the UK has been a familiar brand for decades.

Sadly for some British consumers, from January 5th the last Woolworths door will close, putting around 27,000 staff back on the job market & leaving 807 retail premises looking for an occupant. Woolworths are yet another casualty of the world’s financial meltdown after they unsuccessfully tried to sell the business but found no suitors for their dated business model, tired & haphazard inventory & indeterminent pricing policy.Where once Woolworths represented great value, in recent times they didn’t have a clear consumer offer with any discernable benefits that would encourage modern day consumers into their stores, frequently selling outmoded merchandise that was no cheaper than their competitors.In 2001 F.W. Woolworth closed down in the US, reopening as Foot Locker Inc., but Woolworths UK  (no relation to its U.S. parent)  traded on in Britain where “big box” retail formats are less common & shoppers were comfortable with their discount variety format.Like customers of the original “five & dime” stores in the US or “nothing over 2/6d” in Australia, Woolworths in UK was a nostalgic place for baby boomers, reminiscent of their early days with modest pocket money & few places to spend it, but better merchandised retailers have stolen Woolworths niche & put the old girl into retirement.The  closing down sale, touted “Woolworths Biggest Sale Ever.” drew crowds eager to see if they could find a bargain as well as the old guard visiting for the last time.”Let’s be clear about the demise of Woolworths,” wrote Julia Finch in The Guardian last week. “It was not caused by Gordon Brown, or the credit crunch. It was caused by failing to attract enough shoppers to spend money. It was the result of being a horrible place to shop, which offered nothing that wasn’t cheaper or better elsewhere.”