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Woolworths is the most missed retailer by Brits, says new research

For all the devastation that Covid-19 has caused to the high street, it’s a retailer that closed 14 years ago that is the one Brits miss the most.

New research from home delivery expert, ParcelHero, found that, when shoppers were asked which stores they wish were still on the high street, Woolworths – a chain which was hugely influential within the licensing space – came out on top.

“Consumers are showing decreasing brand loyalty in the era of internet shopping, but still remain loyal to the memory of many former favourites,” commented David Jinks, head of consumer research at ParcelHero.

The top five most missed high street stores are:

  1. Woolworths – it vanished as long ago as 2008, but it is still the store that Brits miss the most. David continued: “We were a little surprised that ‘the wonder of Woolies’ has stayed evergreen in the memory of shoppers. It seems we all miss its eclectic mix of competitively priced products, from baby clothes to saucepans to that great Pick n’ Mix.”
  2. Debenhams – a close second, the department store exited the high street in 2021, but survives online as part of Boohoo. “The department store could trace its history back to 1778. Our respondents said they particularly valued Debenhams’ beauty products, cafes and handy loos!”
  3. Mothercare – the baby and infants’ store came third in the poll, with shoppers saying they really miss the fact they could buy large items such as prams, together with smaller items including children’s clothing, in one shop. Mothercare opened in 1961 and closed its UK stores in 2019, although it is still represented through a deal with Boots.
  4. Laura Ashley – founded in 1963 and a staple part of every 1980s high street, Laura Ashley went into administration in 2020 as a result of changing consumer fashions. However, the Laura Ashley name can now be seen once again in many Next stores.
  5. Topshop – by the time it closed in 2021, Topshop perhaps wasn’t the fashion leader that it once was, however its 300 UK stores were still a major part of the high street. ASOS took over the brand and it continues as an online-only retailer.

David continued: “Our respondents also listed many other familiar names that they wish were still on the high street. Honourable mentions should go to BHS (the former British Home Stores) which closed as long ago as 2016, and the toy superstore Toys ‘R’ Us, which disappeared from the UK in 2018.”

David also gave a shout out to three other retailers which still had many Brits feeling nostalgic, long after their final closure.

These were video rental chain Blockbuster, which closed in 2013; card and poster store, Athena which disappeared way back in 1995; and electronics retailer Tandy, which closed in 2001.

“It’s interesting that most of the top five stores still have an online presence,” added David. “Indeed, there was huge excitement over the fake launch of a new Woolworths site last year. However, ParcelHero has been warning about the dangers of a shift to online-only stores for some time. We believe a balanced ‘brick-and-click’ approach will be best for retailers and shoppers alike.”

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