In The Netherlands, various retail chains are either having difficulties, or they’re going bankrupt. Having it difficult: HEMA (huge stores though smaller than V&D), V&D (huge stores). Bankrupt/payment issues: Free Record Shop (CDs), Halfords (bikes/stuff for your car), Mexx (clothing) and Schoenenreus (shoes). These are stores you often see in any city centre. At least a few of these chains were taken over by investment companies.
It’s hard to care. Often they sell exactly the same Chinese products you find everywhere. There’s nothing really unique to any store, so I often compare chains by the prices they offer.
For HEMA and V&D, the chain Action offers a much smaller amount of products, but much much cheaper. Further, Action often completely changes whatever they offer. This makes it interesting to go back to the store a lot. V&D and HEMA: I know what they offer, I only go there when Action doesn’t have it in stock. V&D is trying to lower their costs by demanding 40% less rent and no rent payment for 4 months. The company they’re renting from is trying to evict them. Officially they can easily rent out the space to others, though somehow you can also benefit from leaving a building completely empty.
For clothing, Primark offers clothing for much reduced prices. A t-shirt can be had for a few Euros. A while back I bought loads of shirts and t-shirts, the most expensive item was 4 EUR. Quality wise Primark is questionable, but other clothing chains are not that much better. Price wise, it can be more economical to buy the lower quality Primark version.
For bikes, loads of bike shops rely on the tax benefit that existed when you buy a bike to travel to work. The maximum price of a lot of bikes exactly match the maximum you could get as tax benefit. Internet bike shops were often excluded from the tax benefit, while stores offering the tax benefit we often much more expensive. Resulting in most of the tax benefit mostly actually going to the shops. This tax benefit ended starting from 2015. I won’t be sad if loads of bike shops go out of business. Though according to the bike shops, their business has increased due to businesses now providing company bikes. I don’t believe them.
Schoenenreus offers bad quality shoes for a lowish price. It actually doesn’t work out at all. A shoe bought there might be worn out in 1 month, max 3. It shouldn’t be that costly to make shoes or offer better quality. I think people not having money for a better quality shoe probably found a chain which offers better quality for the same price, making the business model of Schoenenreus obsolete. It seems that in The Netherlands you can either buy a nice looking shoe and it’ll wear out, or buy a really ugly one that’ll last you for years. Most well known brands seem to have lowered their quality.
Various chains that do well are considered to be cheap while they aren’t (Mediamarkt), are cheap (Action), refocussed on offering unique products (Bijenkorf). I do wonder what’ll happen to the rarely needed stuff which is only offered by a few shops. As well as the space occupied by the huge stores. I do hope that stores adapt to the changes. Just because you were successful or your store existed for a long time doesn’t mean you’re entitled to continued success.