13 Jan 2014

Why Marks & Spencer's Woes Are Because Of Cars

Marks & Spencer has struggled in recent years and this Christmas its trading was particularly miserable.  Next, on the other hand reported increased sales and is performing above expectations.  And a lot of this is down to the two retailer's attitudes to cars.

A few years ago Marks & Spencer decided to eschew Britain's out of town retail parks and concentrate expansions and refurbishments on its High Street stores whilst Next went down the opposite route and opened lots of stores in retail parks.

And that is the nub of the matter.  So called experts and analysts talk of adverse weather, fashion, consumer confidence etc etc etc, but that's all balderdash.  It's simple - you can drive right up to a Next store, park up, pop in, buy something, walk out, jump in your car and go home.

But you can't do that at a Marks & Spencer.  High Streets, and the councils who run them, are viciously anti-car.

Parking in town centres is increasingly difficult to do, and increasingly expensive.  What's the point of paying £10 to park, after spending 30 minutes driving round and round trying to find a space, then walking half a mile to the store to buy a t-shirt?

High Streets are being killed by councils with ridiculous rents, business rates and stupid and expensive parking.  Pure and simple.  Out of town shopping centres might not look very nice but I can't see one from my house so I don't really care.

Next is doing well because us drivers can shop there easily.  Marks & Spencer is doing poorly because only people who use public transport shop there, and public transport is so miserable and expensive the punters are too poor and depressed to go shopping.

Marks & Sparks - to turn around your fortunes start opening out of town stores so drivers will shop in them.  If you don't you'll go bust.

By Matt Hubbard