After being out of action for a while and not having my usual on demand access to the news channels I have just found out that both Maplin and Toys R Us have gone into administration or liquidation and are closing down.
To make the first point I am sad that Maplin are going from our high streets. They nearly always have had the parts I need in stock for an electronics or computer project or just some general stuff around the house like a new lead for the telly. The shops are great if I need something in a hurry. I will miss them.
As a father, I have to say I have slightly less sympathy for Toys R Us! Many is the time I have had my wallet well and truly dredged in their stores my daughter who is now 11 years old! I am sure there are any mothers and fathers who feel the same way about Toys R Us! The pile it high sell it cheap model of my nearest branch irks me in the way it puts too much choice and variety in the hands of a child.
So where is it all going wrong for retail?
Sat in a hospital as I have been recently I have been bored and had plenty of time to ponder this one.
You see this is the way I see it. A lot of this this shopping can be done online. I am no fan of retail parks, never have been and never will be. A trip to one fills with dread! If I can shop online I will! I hardly ever go to a Tesco or Sainsbury’s these days I order online and they and my weekly shop come to me. This is much better.
The second thing to my mind is the experience factor. People want experiences these days as opposed to the mundane. they want something to brag about to their friends on Facebook and Instagram. This I think is where the likes of Value Retail have it nailed with their designer shopping villages. Visiting my nearest one, which is Bicester village in Oxfordshire is an experience and generally a good day out. My only criticism of Bicester Village is that every time I have visited it has been very, very busy! I must try and time my next visit at a quieter time if one exists! Hardly a month goes by either without one of my friends posting about a visit to Bicester Village on social media.
This is where it is at. Shopping at Maplin, Toys R Us or Even Tesco’s is not an experience it is a chore and some times a horrid one at that. Do not get me started on Saturday or Sunday afternoons in IKEA! Writing this from a hospital bed I wired up to a monitor I can assure you I would rather be here than in many retail outlets! Shopping is that bad. I would much rather do my shopping from the comfort of my own home if I can. If more retailers made shopping an enjoyable experience in store I might visit more often for that experience. Pile it high, sell it cheap isn’t going to work in store when I have a nice laptop, a lovely cup of tea, my favourite chair and a pile of chocolate biscuits to help me shop. I can even listen to my favourite music as well. I know I am not alone in this school of thought!
High street units cost a lot of money to rent and keep going for example, staff, stock, heat and light. Point is many people both hate and avoid going to the store and would rather shop online! Thus high street units could be seen as a waste of money to the retailer and an expensive one at that.
If retailers make more of an experience of visiting the store and also make their online presence a little more slick into the bargain some retailers might not face difficulties such as the ones faces by Toys R Us and Maplin and might even increase sales.