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COMMENT: ‘Anchor’ Arcadia Shops’ Demise will Impact Independents

With the Phillip Green retail empire, Arcadia Group, collapsing into administration, there has been much debate over what this means for the retail future of the UK high street.

While the rise of online shopping was already proving a substantial hurdle for many of the Arcadia brands, the impact of COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns has resulted in a mass exodus of footfall from many UK high streets, as shoppers begin to embrace online shopping in their droves.

Dan Whytock, CEO of Down Your High Street

Dan Whytock, CEO of the low commission, online marketplace, Down Your High Street (pictured right) has given Commercial People his comments on the collapse and what it could mean for independents who rely on the footfall Arcadia’s shops bring.

Down Your High Street aims to create the world’s longest high street by connecting Community with Commerce, giving the independent businesses of the Great British High Street an online presence.

Dan says: “Arcadia group going into administration will have a mixed impact on the UK High Street. If 400+ stores closed across the UK, it will certainly reduce visitors and therefore footfall. Arcadia’s shops are what we call ‘Anchor’ shops – they are the ones that draw people to the High Street and allow the lesser-known, smaller shops to catch the eye of customers who may not have found them before. There is also the concern of around 19,000 people losing their jobs. In the more rural areas, those employees will live locally and spend locally. Without money in their pockets, this will impact the smaller retailers’ sales opportunities.

“However as we’ve seen with previous retail administrations, it’s likely that the majority of stores will remain open and some sections of the business will be sold off, allowing the group to manage some of the tremendous losses it will have incurred from the effects COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions. In my opinion, it was inevitable that this would happen to one of the biggest retailer groups whose key focus is instore sales. No one could have predicted how this year has panned out, but retailers who invest in online have obviously mitigated their losses a lot better.

“Another negative is that these stores/brands at risk of closing pay a huge proportion of the rents and rates in each area. The impact of them leaving will leave the local budget with a hole that’s hard to fill, leaving Business Improvement Districts and local councils less able to run local events and footfall generating activities.

“Losing all these brands would be a sad moment for the High St, but there’s definitely room for some stores to close and like any industry, the players who don’t shift with the times are the ones most likely to lose out.”

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