Posted tagged ‘Amazon’

What price progress

11/12/2008

“…Here at Woolworths we never lose our sense of adventure. We love a challenge. And we’re determined and tenacious enough to make new ideas work. It’s that unique team spirit that has led to us becoming one of the UK’s market leaders…”

http://www.woolworthscareers.co.uk – web site front page introduction December 2008

About thirty years ago on a Saturday morning I would park my car in the High Street and unload the local hospital radio’s record decks and speakers to set up what must have been one of the first in-store broadcasts.

My stint in the Woolworths record department was a real entrepreneurial effort in moving product and move product we did. My exhortations and multiple plays of the latest hits would see the records flying off the shelves. But of course, like the black plastic 7-inch and 12-inch discs, those days are gone.

A few weeks ago I visited Woolworths and rummaged through the CD racks, bought advent calendars from the chocolate counter that nestled close to the ever present pick ‘n’ mix sweets and noticed that the person serving me seemed vaguely familiar as the shop assistant who thirty years ago sold records whilst I played them just now she, like me, was three decades the wiser.

And in that lies the price of progress, which is inevitably human, and her job, like 30,000 others, is likely to be the main casualty of this high street retailer going out of business.

The impending closure of Woolworths is a real high street tragedy as it has its roots in tradition and nostalgia and the retailer has been unable to keep pace with the Amazon, I-tunes and Tesco Extra era. It seems prophetic that a log on to Woolworths web site returns a ‘site down for administration’ message as it certainly is in every sense.

The TV pictures have concentrated on the bargain hunting ‘vultures’ crowding in for their 50% discount; interestingly most of them interviewed bemoaning the lack of a genuine bargain rather than pausing to think about the 30,000 jobs that may be lost.

The price of progress is not a 50% sale and is actually far more expensive and my thoughts are with the people who will pay the biggest price