Homebase has been sold for a pound, Marks and Spencer is closing more stores – can the nation of shopkeepers survive?
In one fell swoop DIY giant Homebase became the high street’s latest pound shop last week after its Australian owner, Wesfarmers, offloaded the loss-making chain for a token sum to a restructuring firm. The deal is expected to trigger fresh pain on a high street that is already shedding stores and jobs at a faster rate than during the recession in 2009. Major high-street names including Marks & Spencer, Debenhams, Topshop and House of Fraser are also struggling. On Friday the homewares chain Dunelm issued a profit warning, blaming “challenging” conditions. So why is life so tough on the high street?