The Empty High Street-Forever?

The news that Cath Kidston are in trouble(see various news media) is disturbing. This was quite a successful business, with strong growth, a distinctive brand, and a nicely targeted market- adult women. OK, not my bag-but if you saw inside their shops, it was well designed, and the whole seemed more that the sum of the individual parts.

The issue here is not whether they survive or not, but that they and so many other brands and stores are in trouble. What happens next?

Any retail brand emerging from the corona virus crisis will need money. The trouble is that investors may look at the successful new parts of retail-distribution, storage and on line marketing. Many retail companies trade from premises owned by someone else, and so it’s hard to see where the collateral for big loans will emerge from. Certainly, funds will have to be competed for.

Which brings us to the second point of angst- investor portfolios may well look shy of retail property, and even parts of commercial property altogether. It is no exaggeration to state that retail shop clusters (that’s High Street to you and me) have been at the centre of our lives for at least eleven hundred years. They provide the very focus for communities, where things like charities, politics and just simple social networks thrived. For a very, very long time.

Of course all societies change. But the sheer size of such a change in such a very, very short time, may be very hard to manage indeed. Ideas, anyone?

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