Mothercare and Mamas & Papas have joined the long list of UK high street shops in administration. At a time when the country’s population is rising, retail giants seem to be unable to stand their ground on the high street. Why? Read on.
I still remember when shopping for baby clothes when pregnant with my boys. Back then, seventeen years ago, there weren’t that many shops dedicated solely to babies on the high street. You had Adams Kids, Next, Mothercare and Mamas & Papas. Out of the four mentioned only one survives today and that’s Next.
Now both stores have recently gone into administration. It’s understood why Adams Kids closed down completely in 2008 but the other two? I believe it’s due to the reasons below:
Mothercare and Mamas & Papas were too expensive
They are both known for selling beautiful, quality products for children but shoppers claim that the prices are just too high and to be quite honest, I agree. I have no problem purchasing an item if I think it’s incredibly cute. How often does a reasonable person find a child’s item so cute that the price is no object? Not that often. No sane person wants to repeatedly walk out of a children’s store having spent around £60 on just a few pieces. Children grow out clothes too quickly for that so to buy cheaper seems more sensible.
Supermarkets expanded into clothing
According to this Guardian article, Tesco began to branch out into clothing in 2006, which, as you remember above, is around the time that Adams Kids went into administration. With the 2008 recession in full force, shoppers turned to clothing sold by supermarkets as they were cheaper and convenient due to placing both your fruit and veg and your child’s clothing in the same shopping trolley.
Social media has been a catalyst to the closure of children’s clothing stores because of its convenience and wider shopping audience. Facebook market is a place where some parents shop for second-hand items. You can purchase items for a fraction of the price of a new one and you can pick it up at your convenience. Both stores would have found it difficult to compete with this. Why buy new when you can buy it second hand?
Something else that has sprouted up in the last decade is shops who have their products sold solely on Instagram and Facebook. Doing this removes the need for renting shop space and all that comes with it, meaning that anyone can try their hand at selling baby items.
Handmade clothing has made a resurgence in recent years with more and more people taking up sewing. The thought of a person single-handedly working on a piece of clothing for your child is appealing. This is especially so when big companies tend to sell capsule wardrobes currently in fashion. The choices are endless on markets like Etsy and distance is no problem either. I’ve purchased items from both Australia and the USA.
It’s not always nice to see the high street reduced to betting and charity shops but we have to be honest with ourselves; More casualties lie in waiting if they don’t pay attention to the market and research just what it is that customers want.
I see the next store being Marks & Spencer. Why? They’ve been struggling for a good few years now, twenty to be exact and no sign of the struggle ending.
Steve Rowe, the Chief Executive for the company has been quoted as stating that the numbers for the first half of this year were “not pretty”. “Clothing is not where I wanted it to be,” he continued. “We are about 18 months behind and racing to make up lost time. My No 1 priority is to get under the bonnet of the clothing business.”
Children’s clothing is a hit with most shoppers but anything for adults is a big miss. Both men and womens clothing are looked at as being frumpy, too big and feel cheap. I have often wanted to buy something for myself whilst at my local M&S but nothing calls out to me. Nothing begs for my money. Asos on the other hand…
Their clothing department cannot simply be sustained by children’s clothing so we’re yet to see what the company will do to turn its 20-year battle against frumpiness.
What other reasons do you think contribute to the fall of high street stores? What stores do you think are on the red? What do you think needs to be done?