Belfast Telegraph

Business View: Firms respond to changing times

By Margaret Canning

What might become known as the Great Recession has had a profound effect on how we do things. We no longer do our weekly shop in the same way – in fact, most of us no longer do a weekly shop at all.

Most of us don't frequent pubs and nightclubs to the same extent as before.

Those of us with businesses to run have also changed our habits – and the business stories which dominated the headlines yesterday are a reminder of how much things have changed.

Tesco used to be able to rely on most of us driving to one of their big out-of-town Tesco Extras, where we could spend up to £100 per week, if not more (see my colleague's testimony below).

But a lot of us no longer feel comfortable paying so much in one go, so have spread our budget between several retailers – resulting in a battle of the supermarkets as Tesco, once a bastion of British business, feels the heat from German discount rivals Aldi and Lidl.

Hospitality businesses also feel the pressure. Customers aren't spending as much when they go out, or aren't going out at all. And tired venues will inevitably need reinvestment – which landlords just don't have the patience for.

Tesco has responded by opening more small Tesco Express chains, such as the store planned for Royal Avenue. That will be the location of a new student Mecca when UU moves in – and there's surely no greater fans than students of the top-up shop.

Shine Productions, which has left the Stiff Kitten, could well look towards the Cathedral Quarter, for its future acquisitions.

Times have changed – and it looks like we've all changed with them.

Belfast Telegraph