The riots have shown no mercy to both high street shops and high fashion stores alike. Although there is no question that the riots have affected a range of businesses across the retail spectrum it is evident that larger stores such as Debenhams will be able to recover in time whereas smaller independent stores may have to close their doors forever.
There was no escape for high fashion stores. Birmingham saw the windows of Armani Exchange, Pandora and Louis Vuitton smashed. London’s Bond Street was another high fashion victim falling into the wild hands of the mobs including shops such as Smythson, Kurt Geiger and H&M. Ex-Oasis and current Beady Eye member, Liam Gallagher, didn’t escape the riots either, his Manchester clothing store ‘Pretty Green’, that only opened last December being looted and left in ruin. Some retailers took quick measures to protect their shops such as Chanel who boarded up their shop front whilst exclusive jewellers removed stock from windows and put extra guards at entrances.
Whilst sporting retailers such as Adidas and JD Sports have been hit hard, its chairman Peter Cowgill stating the clear-up cost will set them back £10m, they have also been accused as a factor in fuelling the anti-social behaviour behind the riots. The Guardian accuses JD Sports of advertising and promoting a ‘gangster-chic’ image, causing a serious concern surrounding its role as a major sponsor for the 2012 London Olympics. This accusation is particulary supported by the fact that Adidas is being allowed to launch thier new Adidas Originals advert next week that features the rappers Snoop Dogg, who is a gang member and convicted criminal and Big Sean, who was charged with sexual assaults this month. It causes you to question who on earth actually runs these companies? Their morals and basic common sense really have to be questioned. What is worrying is the increasing influence the sport retailers have on young people, highlighted by a photo used by The Guardian and The Daily Mail of a rioting hooded youth dressed head to toe in Adidas. A retail expert at restructuring firm Zolfo Cooper, Robin Knight, believes JD Sports was specifically targeted due to the view that they “embody youth culture”.
Further concern surrounding the influence of leading fashion retailers including the international denim specialist brand Levi has been highlighted as the compnay recently withdrew their 60-second advertising campaign which unfortunately was launched on Facebook on Tuesday 9th August featuring a man fighting with riot-police. Other brands that also have negative associations with the media including Criminal, Gio Goi, Fred Perry, Dr Martens, Burberry and Ben Sherman were effected by the riots as well- karma to the brand ‘Criminal’ I think.
The riots have obviously brought attention to the serious problem with the messages the retail industry communicates, however the devastation to the thousands of other businesses can’t be overlooked.
Relief has come to businesses in the form of both money and community help. David Cameron has stated that badly damaged businesses can defer their tax payments and that a £20m high street support scheme is to be implemented to ensure the speedy recovery of businesses and stores. It seems that social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter that grouped this mass of people for one sick ‘purpose’ has been equally involved in the grouping of peace makers and clear up schemes, The Twitter account ‘@riotcleanup’ for instance having nearly 90,000 followers. The retail industry charity ‘The Retail Trust’ has also launched a campaign via Twitter called ‘#highstheroes’, calling for anyone to donate £1 to the Trust’s website www.retailtrust.org.uk. Nigel Rothband, the Trust’s Chief Executive Officer said “Feelings are running deep in all the affected areas of our country, but what is remarkable is the community spirit that is coming to the fore in terms of clean up culture and helping each other out”.
Twitter has also been busy with the voices of big fashion names including, Marc Jacobs, Henry Holland, Alexa Chung, Harvey Nichols and Mary Portas.
Marc Jacobs “Co-workers, friends & fam in the UK: Stay safe & be good to each other.”
Henry Holland “London is scaring me. I’m off to Italy!”
Alexa Chung “Wish I was in LDN to help with the clean up. A disgraceful scene, I hope everyone is okay. Xxxxx”
Mary Portas “We’ve got to help our affected shop-keepers and communities clear up the mess.@riotcleanup has info. Also let me know of groups and I’ll RT”
Harvey Nichols “RT via @thisislouisalau Can everyone please follow @Riotcleanup – great people trying to put London back together #londonriots – PLEASE RT”.