Posted by: anglopole | December 11, 2008

Goodbye Woolies!

I remember when I first came to Britain in 1991, one of the first shops I bought something in was Woolworths.


It wasn’t hard to notice then that it was a popular shop here, as wherever I went to do my sightseeing, the Woolies was there, right in the town or city centre, an integral part of many high streets in the UK. It is a bit like EMPIK in Poland.


I can’t really imagine EMPIK to just disappear from the Polish streets one day… It makes me think that it is not just the monuments, historical buildings or modern architectural wonders that create a particular atmosphere towns have in a certain country. Whether we want it or not, various retail outlets too constitute landmarks and when a huge chain suddenly goes bust, like Woolworths, and is to vanish from all the streets in all the places in the whole of UK it is going to change the landscape of the British towns, I have no doubt about it (let alone the fact that many people are about to lose their jobs!).

Anyway, tomorrow I’m going to do part of my Christmas shopping in the good old Woolies!



  1. A very interesting observation. In the UK I already saw C&A disappear from the streetscape (although it is still here in Paris), whilst here in Paris we saw Marks & Spencer leave (although still remain in the UK of course!)

    It is true that the first people affected are the staff, but the second later step is on the face of the town itself. I think some towns will be glad to see it go (it is a little downmarket), whilst other towns will struggle to replace it. Personally I can’t say I’m very upset as I don’t actually remember ever buying anything in a Woolies!


  2. You know what, Adam, I am just watching BBC News and it looks like I am in the minority here who sort of begin to feel nostalgic for Woolworths before it’s even gone…. How strange, don’t you think? I really thought that the retailer, being in the market for so many decades, is part of the cityscape in the UK and the economy that would be sorely missed! Yet, I’ve just heard customers complaining that the discounts offered by Woolies are not big enough…

    Oh, well, perhaps I’m still a bit of an idealist at heart or perhaps Woolies reminds me of the Britain I fell in love with….

    So, the credit crunch has hit Paris as well, huh?


  3. I think people in the UK are perhaps less nostalgic and are more used to seeing brands disappear.

    There hasn’t been any visible effect from the credit crunch in Paris so far – but then things here happen more slowly! Marks and Spencer left about 10 years ago!


  4. Well, good for the Parisians then 🙂 Here the news is spreading that more big names will disappear from the High Street….

    Anyway, I did go to Woolworths today only to find it nearly empty… Most of the stock’s already gone! People were very fast in grabbing all the bargains…


  5. It may be as Wong here in Peru: although the owners were of Chinese descendant, they were part of Lima’s landscape.
    Some time ago, they sold it to Chilean investors. Little has changed since then, but…


  6. So, it does look like all these retail chains become an integral part of cityscapes all over the world. It’s when they’re gone many people realize how used they were to having them in their home towns…


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