hellen ward on house of fraser closure retail

The End Of The High Street: Hellen Ward On The Fall Of Retail & What This Could Mean For Salons


hellen ward

A long-standing salon insurance customer of Salon Gold, Hellen Ward shares her concerns on the fall of high street retail and what this could mean for salons.


The news that House of Fraser are to close 31 stores is disheartening. Sadly, the retail sector of our economy seems to continue to be in crisis, with many household names just failing to make a profit – Toys’R’Us, Mothercare, BHS, C&A – the list of casualties seems to be growing. The resulting job losses are terrible news for those concerned and the country as a whole. House of Fraser is particularly close to my heart as I worked for a company they had their in-store concession business from leaving school until I started my own company – it’s so sad to think they no longer exist. Of course, before they were part of the House of Fraser group they were department stores all individual to the towns they served – Kendals, Manchester, Rackhams, Birmingham and Jenners, Edinburgh to name but a few – that were later re-branded under the HofF banner.

But for salon owners, it paints a scary vision of the future of the great British high street. We may think we are future-proof, safe in the knowledge that until a pair of hands can come out of a computer screen to blow dry, cut, colour hair or paint nails, we’re secure in our offering – but are we? Surely these closures will affect us. Empty high streets mean decreased footfall, and that in turn means less potential new customers to appeal to. As much as the key to creating a sustainable salon business is client retention, we all need a slow and steady trickle of new business to replace the natural decline in existing customers that we all face, regardless of how ‘on it’ we are.

What will happen to the gaping holes these huge stores will leave? Not just in terms of the retail offering but in their physical presence? Greedy landlords and increased business rates have played a massive part in their downfall, but it’s online retail that’s been the final nail in the coffin for bricks and mortar retailers.

hellen ward on house of fraser closure retail

I can see a time in the future where we come full circle. The once buzzy department stores and graveyard retail outlets will become showrooms for the online giants – after all, they’ll be the only ones who can afford to inhabit them. The generation z (because we are talking past millennials here) will find the concept of a shop a novelty; ‘Wow! You can actually go into a place and see things for real!’ They’ll say. ‘You can touch them! Pick them up! Buy them there and then! Take them home! You won’t have to wait for a delivery!’

And back we will go to bricks and mortar retailing. It probably won’t be in my lifetime, but if you buried this article in a time-capsule I can see it happening… after all, everything is cyclical. E-commerce will become reality retail again. If you think I’m being dramatic, just remember that Amazon in Seattle has opened a brick and mortar retail unit. And they won’t stop at Seattle.

I attended a recent conference where it was suggested, in the years to come, human beings won’t know how to pro-create any more because every experience they will cherish will be virtual reality, not real life. One thing is for sure, we all need a wake-up call to ensure our precious high streets remain. Wandering down a lovely high street of independent retail units need not be a thing of the past. It’s a lifeline to many lonely pensioners who often don’t get to speak to anyone all day except when they nip out for a coffee or to buy a paper. How sad if that’s lost. How greatly it will affect us all.


What do you make of the closure of so many retails stores and how do you think it will affect your business? Share your opinions with us in the comments on Facebook and Twitter.

Salon Gold provides insurance for salons. For further information, please visit our Salon Insurance page.

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How true. Even in my small town shops are closing. My biggest fear is the fast rise in therapists and hairdressers “working from home”. They charge sufficiently less than salons to attract customers. They tend to be “cash only” and as such there is the question of whether they pay the full amount of tax/NI/VAT. Do they pay a music license or insurance? I try to maintain and improve the standing and standards of our profession and fear i am fighting a losing battle 🙁

Reply to Janice

We are hitting scary times. My salon is right nextdoor to House of Fraser so reading this article rings true in so many ways.
Everything you have said is so true and I’m about to do an interview saying the very same things. I just hope it gets better cos Wolverhampton is turning into a giant carpark to Birmingham.

Reply to Kerry

I agree with you, the high streets will come full circle. My reasoning for this is because convenience is harmful to our health on all levels. Humans are social, we need to interact. studies are proven to show this and with the decline in social stimulation and purpose to leave the house the mental well being also declines. People are becoming ‘greener’ and cleaner in their living and will want to have local shops where they can buy local produce and not be harmed by mass production products. I also agree with Janice the industry needs to shake up and offer more flexible working hours for our workforce. Considering our workforce is made up of women, it is not family friendly. The big chains have killed the hairdressing career for women with 7 days trading and late nights… hence the reason for mobile hairdressers where they can work around their families. Will this turnaround happen soon enough for our immediate generation… perhaps not. In my opinion the sooner we bring back local communities, local shops and local produce the world will be a better place.

Reply to Michelle
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