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Online competition puts more high street mainstays out of business

06 March 2018 - 09:30 by Paul Tissington

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Electronics retailer, Maplin, became the latest in a long line of popular high street outlets to enter administration last week, with thousands of jobs left hanging in the balance.

The rise of shopping online has hit its profitability hard, since consumers can quickly compare prices and place orders for items which are costlier and less convenient to pick up at one of its 200 bricks and mortar outlets across the UK.

Toys R Us was also back in the news after facing similar issues, hampered by the fact that it never managed to gain momentum in the e-commerce marketplace, leaving customers to carry out shopping online with modern rivals like Amazon.

In the interim, Maplin stores will still be opening their doors to shoppers who want to brave the wintry weather to buy electrical goods and devices. There have even been questions raised about the extent to which e-commerce is to blame for its current precarious position.

Chief exec, Graham Harris, said that Brexit was a bigger problem for the firm, with a drop-off in consumer confidence and the weakening of the pound creating dire circumstances, according to Wired.

PwC, the company that has stepped in to handle the administration of Maplin’s assets until a buyer is found to take over, said that the UK’s economic instability is indeed presenting problems for a number of retailers. But it is impossible to ignore the fact that safe shopping online has been changing the shape of the industry in its own right, long before Brexit was on the horizon.

From a consumer perspective, it pays to stay on top of news about retailer performance, since orders placed with failing firms may not be fulfilled and, in the case of Toys R Us, pre-order deposits will no longer be honoured.