By Naomi Bray
Sub-edited by Jasmine Wing
Section Editor – Zahida Khan
Reading locals have expressed their sadness at the potential removal of one of their go-to stores, and are surprised with the news. The Oracle is a well-performing and popular shopping centre, acting as one of the main attractions within the Berkshire town of Reading, and so the closure of the store would be noticeably missed.
Since going into administration in April of this year, the Debenham’s lenders now have control of the retailer’s next steps, and the current plan is to close a total of 50 of the worst-performing stores over the next 3 years. 22 stores to close were confirmed at the end of April, and while Reading is not yet on the list, the nearby store in Slough has made the cut.
As well as locals professing their disappointment over the prospect of the closure, which consists of 3 large floors of differentiated product and services, they also express concerns about the potential loss of jobs within the area. Reading has gradually been growing in popularity as one of London’s nearby towns, with an increasing population; spurring more opportunities for work.
The news is a part of an ongoing crisis already facing the UK high street as a result of the fast growth of e-commerce. Internet sales now make up over 20% of all retail sales, and so companies and brands are having to restructure to adapt to consumers’ new spending habits. 8% of stores across the UK have closed since 2013, and department stores, in particular, are feeling the pressure. Consumers continue to spend their disposable income on experiences and services more than physical products, and as a result, entertainment and leisure businesses are beginning to appear in the place of failing retailers.