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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.

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