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Beware the Retail Gloom in 2013

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- Tom Winnifrith

Insolvency firm Begbies Trainor grabbed the headlines just before Christmas with a claim that 147 retailers across the UK were zombies, the living dead, poised on the brink of insolvency. The headline was scary enough. But the detail was even scarier. I sense that the bloodbath on the high street will reach a rather unpleasant finale during 2013…

We know why high street retailers are in trouble. They face competition from giant online retailers who do not have expensive properties to maintain and enjoy huge economies of scale (i.e. they can screw suppliers). Worse, Tesco (and to a lesser extent the other supermarkets) grab an incremental share of the off-line non food trade each year. And finally, the overborrowed UK consumer (and it seems US consumer) has finally stopped spending. That trend will not change in 2013. In fact none of them will.

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