At the start of last year, when the demise of Woolworths looked set to be repeated far and wide, I asked you to nominate the High Street names you thought were destined for administration. You nominated plenty, like the bunch of pessimistic vultures you are, and I compliled them into a High Street Deathlist. Now, twelve months later, it's time to see how how many of those companies have fallen by the wayside. Erm, this recession hasn't been quite as apocalyptic as everyone anticipated, has it?
Just the one massive debt-ridden collapse, and meanwhile the other 29 companies stumble on into 2010. I thought I was up for a win when JJB Sports starting wobbling early on, but no, a bailout rescued things there. So well done to Lyle for being the only Cassandra to select correctly. Borders (the booksellers) is the only one of these stores to have vanished from the High Street, and that only last month.
A week before closure I popped into the Charing Cross Road branch of Borders to pay my respects to a bookshop I've frequented for years, and it was a sorry sight. The Christmas gift vultures had descended, stripping the shelves of most of the decent books and leaving a less than enthralling selection behind. A fair amount of lightweight fiction remained, alongside several crime novellas and an awful lot of 2010 calendars, all in need of a 50-80% markdown to help them shift. I couldn't see much worth buying myself, which was just as well because the queue for the tills was the longest I've ever seen it. Instead I crossed the road to Foyles and bought a proper full price book there.
I found myself back in the store during its final hour. Only a few books remained, the very dregs of the publishing world, priced at "everything 50p or less" out of sheer desperation. The final customers picked through the titles, rescuing a few from imminent pulping, while at the rear of the store stood ranks of empty shelves. No queues this time. The end was so nigh that workmen were already taking down the "Store Closing" banner from above the door. When I returned an hour later the door was closed, and the staff inside had gathered for one final "farewell and goodbye" briefing. End of chapter, another volume shut, one more bookshop bites the dust. May 2010 be less brutal for us all.