Mannequins at Frasers West End up for sale ahead of store closure
Even the mannequins are for sale as the imminent closure of House of Frasers on Princes Street draws nearer.
In a desperate bid to claw in as much cash as possible from every corner, whole sections of the west end store have been cleared, boxed up and labelled with a hasty price tag.
From wooden stands for £1 to headless mannequins from £15, the dismal sight is a very visual sign of the department store’s demise.
It adds to the turbulent few months for Scotland’s high streets after Poundworld, Maplin, Toys R Us and others being forced into administration.
The Scottish Retail Consortium said yesterday that spiralling business rates bills are damaging beleaguered high street businesses and it called on the UK and Scottish government to freeze the levy.
The call coincided with the publication of inflation figures, which are used to calculate the amount of business rates that firms will have to pay next year.
Yesterday’s ONS Consumer Price Index (CPI) measure of inflation put the rate for September at 2.4 per cent compared with the 2.7 per cent recorded in August.
The September inflation figure is used by the UK government to calculate the non-domestic rates multiplier for the following year. In last year’s Budget the UK government committed to set the rise in line with CPI, having previously used Retail Price Index measurement, which gives a larger figure for inflation.
The Scottish Government also used CPI to calculate the Scottish non-domestic rates poundage in last year’s budget.
According to the SRC, if the Scottish Government take the same approach when it unveils its budget in December, Scottish retailers will face an extra £16 million on their annual business rates bill from April 2019.
While ratepayers as a whole in Scotland would see a £73m leap in their rates bills.
Should the Scottish Government not repeat last years’ decision to limit rises to CPI, but instead use RPI (which is currently 3.3 per cent), the SRC calculated that the £16m figure could rise to over £21m.
Businesses most affected by business rates are either those in highly valued areas such as city centres or those operating from larger properties. The SRC also pointed out Scottish businesses also pay a higher Large Business Supplement in Scotland, and all ratepayers who operate out of town face the prospect of a new rates surcharge under minsters’ plans.
Ewan MacDonald-Russell, SRC Head of Policy, said: “The spiral of ever-increasing rates bills is a crucial factor in the struggle faced by property-based retailers to survive. It’s absurd to pretend it’s sustainable to continue heaping this burden on these businesses. That’s why retailers are calling on the Chancellor to freeze business rates this year – and why we want the Scottish Government to follow suit. The retail industry is the engine of the Scottish economy, the Government needs to reduce the strain if it doesn’t want to cause irreparable damage.”