Monday, December 22, 2008

The end of The Pier

The Pier - closing soon in Belfast's Victoria Square

The economic downturn is all around.

Last night at the carol service I heard about a couple neither of whom will have a job in the new year. The husband has lost his car sales job, while the wife is finishing up a 20+ year career in Woolworths.

On a different level, leaving work tonight I heard of another couple, one of who is working Christmas Day and off Boxing day, while his wife is off Christmas Day and working Boxing Day.

Belfast’s most opulent shopping centre, Victoria Square, has already seen one outlet close. Men’s store Hardy Amies closed its five stores across the UK.

CCTV image of closing down signs inside The Pier unit in Belfast's Victoria Square

Now a second unit will be shutting its doors for the last time. The Pier has gone into administration.

It’ll not take a crystal ball to predict that there will be other units boarded up in 2009. It’s going to be a year when we watch the retail sector shrinking rather than growing.


Timothy Belmont said...

Sadly, they have had a very short innings at Victoria Square, let alone Belfast.
I fear that there was much in what the Archbishop of Canterbury said about our economic circumstances is true: being reliant on too much credit - borrowing money from others - can indeed be precarious.


John Self said...

Quite. I'm by nature - or by upbringing, I suppose - a financially risk-averse person, and never borrow money unless necessary (eg for a mortgage). I do use a credit card, but pay the balance in full each month. I've always been horrified by adverts that promise BUY NOW, PAY NOTHING UNTIL 2010! The idea of 'owning' something then having to start paying for it a year later doesn't make sense to me at all. If anything, I'd rather pay now and not get the item until 2010.

I was astonished to learn over the past year that many banks were funding their lending not through customers' deposits, but through the international money markets. As a result, RBS and HBOS, we now learn, came within days of collapse when they couldn't fund their ongoing operations in October of this year. Why were they allowed to be so careless in the first place? Of course, the freely available credit maintained both the housing market boom and the prosperity of the last decade; if we hadn't had them, we wouldn't have felt so well off, but we also wouldn't have so far to fall.

I'm glad that my savings are with the Nationwide, which doesn't have shareholders and maintains its mutual status, and that Mrs Self and I have our joint account with the Co-operative Bank, which regularly now takes out told-you-so ads informing people that they only use customers' deposits to fund their business, not the money markets. My personal current account is with the Halifax, but there's never enough in it for me to worry about losing it!

Gohir said...

I also hear that Frazers in Cornmarket are closing down too, What a shame it has been in business for over 30 years!

John Self said...

Oh no! I used to work there (well, the Gresham St branch, which closed in 1991, thanks to my sterling efforts to bring it to its knees). Has to be said that that shop, at least in sunnier economic times, would be a prime location for any retailer to snap up. Will be interesting to see if it stays vacant.

Gohir said...

I remember the Gresham st branch did Haggis and daryl not work there?

John Self said...

Yes, Daryl was my boss. Not sure who Haggis is though...