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Retail Update – December 2013


Posted At: 19 December 2013 10:17 AM
Related Categories: Administrations, Retail


With Christmas fast approaching, the FSP database powering SnapShop shows us that December has been a bit gloomy, littered with administrations and store closures.

Blockbuster administrator, Moorfields Corporate Recovery, has been unable to find a buyer for the chain. All stores are to close before Christmas.
• The wholesale arm of Aftershock London fell into administration. The retain arm trades separately and remains unaffected, although an offer for the wholesale arm is understood to have been made, which includes a stake in Aftershock London.
• FRP Advisory was appointed as administrators to Osborne Stationers and are hopeful of finding a buyer. The chain had been loss-making for a number of years.
• A-Wear was placed into receivership at the end of November, and all but four stores were closed. It has since begun closing its House of Fraser concessions as A-Wear looks to focus on its Irish retail operations.
Barratts remains in administration, although it is understood that Pavers has made a rescue bid for parts of the business. December saw Barratts close stores throughout the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Rent quarter day looms in January and brings yet more doom and gloom to the retail industry. Figures from the Centre for Retail Research are warning of a 15% increase in insolvency levels during 2014, predicting that the number of companies declared as insolvent will rise when zombie retailers fail to pay their rent and VAT payments in January. The first quarter of 2014 will be make-or-break for many companies.

Whilst it is tough for some, it is a far rosier picture for many, with shopping centres such as Bluewater in Kent and Birmingham’s Bullring reporting record numbers of visitors through their doors, helped by the generous discounts and promotional events.
According to PwC, 64% of 100 high street retailers have advertised promotions over the last week, a slight reduction on the 69% seen last year. However, the level of discounts offered was higher, at 42% this year compared with 36% in 2012.

Online sales in November were up 20% on last year’s figure to reach £10.2bn, marking the first time the £10bn figures has been breached in a month. This was 30% up on October, and aided by Black Friday mega-discount deals.

Not surprisingly, given the growth in online, footfall declined 2.9% year-on-year in November, with high streets recording their worst fall since August 2012 of 4.2%.

It will be interesting to see how retailers perform over the Christmas period and in the New Year, and who succumbs to administration when the January rent quarter day falls. You can keep up-to-date with all the retail news and sales figures here on SnapShop.

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The opinions expressed herein are the personal opinion of the author and are not intended as statements of fact and do not represent the view of SnapShop or Pragma in any way.


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