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Woolworths workers lose long battle for compensation

Thousands of former high street shop staff will not win compensation after their employers collapsed, the European Court of Justice has ruled.

3,200 ex-Woolworths workers and 1,200 from Ethel Austin have missed out on remuneration after their employers collapsed because they were based in stores with fewer than 20 staff.

A closed branch of Woolworths in 2009 Credit: REUTERS/Toby Melville

Shopworkers' union Usdaw said it was "heartbroken" by the decision. However, under UK law workers in smaller stores are excluded from an obligation to consult over redundancies and do not qualify for compensation.

Staff from bigger stores had received payouts when Woolworths collapsed in 2008, and Ethel Austin two years later.

Usdaw general secretary John Hannett said: "Our case is morally and logically robust, so today's verdict is a kick in the teeth. It is unfair and makes no sense that workers in stores of less than 20 employees were denied compensation, whereas their colleagues in larger stores did qualify for the award."


Leisure aspect of shopping trip 'a significant driver'

The leisure aspects of a shopping trip is a significant driver in where consumers chose to shop, according to a wide ranging survey.

Researchers at Southampton University found:

  • There has been a modest resurgence in specialist retailers such as artisanal bakers, butchers and tea and coffee merchants in high streets.
  • Retailers are exploiting opportunities created by on-line shopping - particularly with the rise in click and collect buying. Within five years, seven out of ten on-line shoppers will prefer to collect goods themselves rather than risk missing a delivery at home.
  • The leisure aspect of shopping trips is a significant driver of footfall and that high streets that include a good range of cafes, bars, restaurants not only increase the dwell time but the average spent during trips to town.

High Streets 'adapting' to changing consumer demands

Britain's High Streets may be enjoying a rejuvenation after a wide ranging study found town centres were adapting to the demands of modern consumers with more convenience stores.

The British High Street had been in the throws of long-term decline. Credit: PA

A long-term investigation into British shopping habits from researchers at Southampton University, found the definition of convenience had changed for consumers.

Convenience retail on high streets, both independently and corporately owned, experienced significant growth over the past 15 years which was sustained during the economic crisis and subsequent period of austerity, the report finds.

Modern shoppers were more inclined to see convenience as topping up their groceries on a daily basis, rather than buying everything bulk by visiting an out-of-town shopping centre, the report said.

Expect shop closures to continue 'well into the future'

High Street shop closures will continue "well into the future" as most consumers are still getting to grips with online retail, a major accountancy firm has said.

Mike Jervis, insolvency partner and retail specialist at PwC, said:

Consumers are only at the start of the digital journey.

Even though we may be on an upturn we expect the pattern of net store closures to continue well into the future.

– Mike Jervis


Convenience stores snap up High Street space

Retail space vacated by big name brands brought to their knees by the 2008 crash are being snapped by convenience stores, figures from a leading accountancy firm show.

Blockbuster was one of the major retailers to close their High Street stores, leaving retail space vacant. Credit: PA

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) pointed to the growth of convenience stores on Britain's High Streets as the biggest positive retail trend of the last year.

Figures from PwC and the Local Data Company showed convenience stores increased by 10% on a net basis last year, as shops like Jessops, HMV and Blockbuster closed left the High Street.

More than five outlets closed at a pace of 16 stores a day in town centres last year, which was down from 20 a day in 2012, PwC found.

PwC hailed a "return in retail confidence" as the net reduction in stores - those opening less those closing - narrowed by almost 80% to 371 in 2013, down from 1,779 in 2012.

Christmas failed to deliver as high street sales drop

It was not a Merry Christmas for Britain's high streets as sales in December dropped by 2.2% for many retailers compared with a year before, according to figures from accountancy firm BDO.

Sales on the high street dropped this year but it was another boom Christmas for online retail. Credit: PA

It was a lacklustre month for many retailers, with like-for-like sales - excluding online trade - dropping by as much as 6.7% in the week to December 22.

Bad weather was partly to blame, with many shops, particularly fashion retailers, hit by the people staying home to avoid the wind and rain.

But the data showed another stellar Christmas for online sales, with non-store sales leaping 31.1%, rising to growth of 55.7% in the week before Christmas.

BDO explained: "Pent-up demand was expected to play a larger role as we moved closer to Christmas day but in reality it never fully took hold."

Charity shops 'boost high street and businesses'

Charity begins on the high street, according to a new report which claims the stores boost local businesses, residents and communities.

Charity shops have been praised with preventing social isolation among older people. Credit: PA

Researchers for think tank Demos found the volunteer-run shops keep consumers on the high street and drastically reduce the number of empty shops.

The Demos report also found charity shops helped tackle health and social problems, particularly social isolation, with the UK's ageing population.

Ally Paget, a researcher at Demos and the author of the report, said: "It is a real shame that the multitude of benefits offered by charity shops is so often unrecognised and under used, especially in this time of austerity.

"Local authorities can and should do more to support charity shops at a business level, and to draw on the capacity of charity shops to spur local regeneration."

Read more: Beckhams' charity clothes sale

High Street footfall down 3.6% year-on-year

October's figures showed high streets suffered the worst drop, down 3.6% year-on-year. Credit: PA

Shoppers shunned the high street in increasing numbers in October as a decline in footfall worsened for the third month in a row.

Trips to high streets, shopping centres and out-of-town retail parks dropped by 2.9% compared to last year, after falling by 2.4% in September and 0.9% in August, according to figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

A surge in shopping visits during the heatwave summer is now a distant memory, with last month's drop in footfall the worst since March, when unprecedentedly cold spring weather persuaded consumers to stay away from stores.

It is the latest sign of the struggles facing the high street after figures from the Office for National Statistics last week showed retail sales fell 0.7% month-on-month in October.

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