7 out of 10 Woolworths store still empty, "degrading high street"
Nostradamus didn't have a patch on The Specials when it came to predicting the future. A quick squint at the summer of 1981, and there you have it:
This place, is coming like a ghost town
No job to be found in this country
Can't go on no more
The people getting angry
And that's why they're called The Specials, innit? If only they'd have made specific reference to 70 per cent of the Woolworths stores still standing empty over six months since their closure, then the band would have marble statues carved of their busts, and this opening paragraph would be far less ambiguous. But there we have it.
A study by the Local Data Company suggests the collapse of Woolworths has "accelerated the degradation of the high street" because those sites that have re-opened are now home to bargain brand stores. Iceland has bought about 50 of the 807 stores, while the likes of Bargain Madness, 99p Stores, Heron Frozen Foods, Poundland, Home Bargains and Carpet Right have all acquired at least ten stores each. And there just aren't enough charity shops either. Let's have a few more of them while we're at it.
Nationally, 560 of the 807 sites have still not been occupied by new owners - that's nearly seven out of ten stores. In Scotland, the figure is eight out of ten stores, and in the North East 90 per cent of stores are standing empty.
Not everyone did so badly out of the collapse of Woolies, however. Whether Shop Direct will resurrect the brand with Woolworths.co.uk remains to be seen, but according to The Times, administrators Deloitte earned nearly £4 million in fees from liquidating the company, while an assortment of specialists and consultants swiped another £8 million. The 27,000 members of staff made redundant will be delighted to hear it.