The onset of the recession on the UK High street has not really been noticeable up until now, but is starting to get quite visible.

We live in a small town in England. One could call our county fairly affluent, but it’s still a small town (full of history, too many tourists on Bank holiday weekends, some shabby buildings, some shops stuck in the 1960ies, and hundreds of grannies going about their chores on a daily basis… you know what it’s like).

There are plenty of shops in our town. There has been a move towards “premium shops” in the last 4 years that we’ve been here. A deli opened up and Costa coffee made its mark, loud and proud as it always does, on the main square (at least it’s not Starbucks, I say). But the outlook is changing.

The deli struggled through its first year and finally shut down at the end of this summer. The people who ran it apparently lost their home in the process. Their lack of success could have been partially attributable to the location of their shop (quite tucked away) and a less-then-visible marketing campaign. But at the height of the boom, many such shops still survived, when there was plenty of money to go around; not this time.

Today, there are two shops that are empty, including the old deli premises, which will soon become three as Woolworths shuts down. I am not a fan of Woolies personally but many jobs will go. It does not seem like there are any takers for any of these large premises.

UK economists are beginning to say that the recession will last all through 2009 and 2010; it’ll start getting better in 2011. I think it’s a realistic forecast. Creating false hope that things will start looking rosy again in summer 2009 was never a good idea given how many redundancies companies of all sizes are anticipating or experiencing – it just appears like an incompetent statement not based on any sense of realism.

Interesting times are ahead, I am sure.

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