Another blow to the retail industry.  That Great British bastion of the high street, Marks & Spencer, has already closed 21 stores with 14 more in the pipeline, and there will also be another 65 stores closing where sales are down and charges are high, causing a reduced profit.

Marks & Spencer was formed in 1884 when Michael Marks, a Polish refugee opened a market stall in Leeds, with the slogan ‘Don’t ask the price, it’s a penny’.   In 1894 Marks went into partnership with Thomas Spencer, a former cashier from the wholesale company, Dewhirst.   In 1904 Marks & Spencer opened their first shop in Leeds.

However, times have changed, and the majority of us are now shopping online.  The big M&S shop windows stretching a good length down the high street will rapidly become a thing of the past, as now less space is needed.

But what of the mainly middle-aged shoppers thronging the famous M&S food halls and trying on good quality M&S clothing in the fitting rooms?  I am one of those middle-agers, and love a trip to M&S on a Saturday.  Most of my clothes are bought there; they last many years.  We go up to the café on the third floor for a green tea every week, and Sam might buy a pair of jeans as we walk through the Menswear Department towards the café.  My sons know to buy me a M&S voucher for birthdays or Christmas if they are stuck for ideas.

There are not many shops left in Bury St. Edmunds that cater for ladies of a certain age who do not want to visit stores for teenagers and end up looking like mutton dressed as lamb.  I suppose shoppers have been cutting back on spending for some time now, and this is reflected in not only M&S’ dwindling profits, but also in the closure of Maplins Electronics (Sam’s favourite shop, now no more), New Look, Mothercare, and Toys R Us amongst others who have already gone down that sad, slippery slope.  The death knell has tolled for retail.

M&S is an institution – it cannot die!  My cousin who lives out in the Middle East has an M&S in Riyadh.  He tells me that sometimes on family shopping nights, single men are not allowed in, and so he gives money to one of his girlfriends who buys what he needs!

Message to my US friends – has M&S made it across the pond?

Sam says that perhaps the age of the shoppers at M&S has something to do with failing profits, but I don’t agree.  What is wrong with a shop catering for people over the age of 45?  We’re entitled to buy clothing just as younger people do.  Sam in his wisdom also says that these older people are dying off, and that the younger ones are shopping online, but there are always new middle-agers ‘coming of age’ every day.  I suppose they have already been conditioned to shop online though…

The featured free image here that I found on Pixabay is of Exeter High Street in Devon.  It’s typical of any UK shopping centre, but if this retail calamity continues, will we have a high street just full of cafes and phone shops? I fear this will be our destiny before too long.