I went out in London on the Kings Road on Saturday – on a pre-Christmas shopping trip.
And the place was empty. Not empty as in a-little-bit-quiet-for-Christmas but, well, just plain old-fashioned hello-is-there-anyone-there empty.
I was so amazed by the quietness I had to rush back for my camera. These photos are the result. Bear in mind that we’re looking at one of the UK’s principal shopping streets, in an area probably less affected by recession than any other part of the UK. And this was a dry Saturday afternoon in the immediate run-up to Christmas.
This first pic shows the result. Huge sales – 50% off! – announced way before the normal date for seasonal sell-offs.
One store-keeper told me that his results were 90% down on the same period last year. That wasn’t idle chat on his part. He actually pulled out his sales stats and talked
me through them. (A guy after my own heart!) Other storekeepers confirmed the same basic picture. Far fewer shoppers than there ought to be, and fewer sales per shopper. That was true for every store I went into.
When you think of the implications for the broader economy, it’s kind of scary. I suspect that the national retailers will do all they can to pull in sales, but will have to slash margins to get anywhere close to last season’s levels. That also means that any ‘jobs’ created by the season will vanish faster than snowflakes on hot turkey.
Oh, and my shopping trip? Unfortunately, I was only popping out for a cup of coffee. My addition to the local economy: about £2.25. Sorry, guys.