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Save our national heritage!
Member Name: jo1976
Date: 27/11/08, updated on 29/03/12 (169 review reads)
Advantages: A classic British store selling a bit of everything.
Disadvantages: Facing bankruptcy!
I was shocked to hear that Woolworths has gone into administration on the news yesterday. Even though there has been so much coverage about the credit crunch and the impact on the retail sector and consumer confidence, I never imagined that a company with the heritage of Woolworths would be reduced to this.
Woolworths has been on Britain's High Street since 1909 and has been a household name and retail giant throughout my entire life. I can remember going into our local store as a young child for some sweets and a comic every week. My son knows 'Woolies' as name in itself and usually asks to have a look in there whenever we are in town. We had to break the news to him this morning that we might have to look elsewhere for presents for his friends' parties in the near future.
News reports state that people no longer consider Woolworths when they are buying the core items stocked there. CDs and games etc are now often purchased via the internet. (I confess I am guilty in that respect.) Clothing, kitchen equipment and toys can all be picked up from other retailers that specialise in those areas and can afford to offer a greater range of items and a greater range of promotions and discounts. Woolies has also suffered because of supermarkets' expansion into the non-food market. Why bother going to Woolies when you can pick up everything you need alongside your weekly food shop?
I appreciate that this may well be the case for people living in larger towns and cities with access to most of the major supermarkets and national retailers. I happen to live in a relatively small market town and Woolworths is one of the major retailers on our High Street. I would be very surprised to discover that our local branch isn't actually making a profit. We don't have any large supermarkets within a short distance. There is a branch of Morrisons (we don't live that far out in the sticks!) but not one of the giant superstores, such as a Tesco Extra, that stock all of life's essentials and not-so-essentials. If there was, I suspect that I would have been just as guilty as the majority of the British public and would have moved my custom across - just for convenience sake. As it stands, the loss of Woolworths (if it does indeed come to that) will genuinely leave a big hole in my shopping habits and in the town where I live. It occupies one of the largest sites on the High Street and it really won't help the appeal of my town if this shop is left standing empty for months or even longer.
So, what do I use Woolworths for? Well, it's the first point of call for toys and gifts when it comes to the ever-increasing children's birthday parties that my son gets invited to. I usually spot another disorganised parent browsing the toy shelves the day before the party so I'm certainly not alone there! The usual items are little figures, novelties like Phlat balls, board games etc. Woolworths have had quite a good range of discounted toys and games for sale over the past few months, with classic games like kerplunk and Buckaroo on offer at good discounts.
I also stocked up on toys for my youngest for this coming Christmas when Woolies had a 3 for 2 promotion recently. Unfortunately, the range of toys in my local store is quite limited as it's one of the smaller branches. I ended up ordering my toys online and then collecting them instore. This meant that delivery was free - an extra bonus alongside the inevitable cashback that I claimed from a cashback site! (I wonder if that will get paid if the company does go under?)
My other main purchases from Woolies are clothes for the kids - mainly the youngest as they stock a decent range of baby basics and it's all reasonably well-priced. Again, they recently ran a 3 for 2 promotion on all clothing items which made clothes even better value. I admit I tend to buy the basics such as pyjamas, sleepsuits and undies from Woolies and go elsewhere for outerwear as the choice of clothing can be limited. We did pick up a winter coat for my oldest in Woolworths recently for £15 in a sale and it's really good quality and will see him through the Winter and, I would imagine, will survive to become a hand-me-down to the youngest in a few years as it's very well made and hard-wearing.
Woolworths have obviously tried to compete with supermarket clothing ranges and other discount clothing stores and have recently launched a 'Worth It' range, including clothing alongside other items. This is akin to a supermarket 'value' range. I haven't bought any of the Worth It clothing because I had a quick look and it didn't seem 'worth it' to me. You might need to spend less on the kids' clothing but you don't want to put them in something that screams 'cheap' and this certainly does! The traditional 'Ladybird' range of kids clothing is generally good quality and, as I said earlier, good value overall although the range is a bit limited.
Woolworths also stock kitchen items and household bits and bobs alongside gifts, greetings cards and small electricals. Other than that, Woolies is the ideal place to pick up a newspaper, a packet of mints and browse the famous pick and mix selection! I think hundreds of adults have a story to tell about shoplifting from the pick and mix as kids! (Perhaps that's the real reason for the current financial difficulties!)
If Woolworths dies, a part of our British retail heritage will die with it. Let's hope there's still time to save our stores and that another retailer will be prepared to invest in the brand name that is Woolies!
Edit: May 2009. Our former Woolie's store still lies empty. :(
Summary: Lets all do our bit and save our stores!