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High-Street Stores We Miss

High-Street Stores We Miss

Written by

Abbie Dawson


June 5, 2023


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How many of them do you remember?

Creating a retail brand which can stand the test of time is difficult. With changing technologies, political and financial environments, and social trends, many unfortunately aren’t able to survive over the years.

We’re all about celebrating the industry, and we all have one or two stores that hold nostalgic feelings for us. Whether it be the store your mum would take you into for pick and mix at the weekend or the video store you and your friends would try to rent 18+ horror films from (did your parents ever find out?), what are some of the retail brands we miss? 

F.W Woolworths

This has to be the one that came to mind, right? 

Founded in 1878, it was the first shop to allow the public to handle the merchandise prior to purchasing it. The store had everything - whether you needed a new garden table, clothes for your kids, or a kitchen appliance, Woolworths was the go-to. 

Unfortunately, the store faced heavy levels of competition from other retailers and online shopping as time went on, and had to close in 2009. 

Blockbuster Video 

Before the days of Netflix and Disney+, Blockbuster was the place to go for the latest videos and DVDs. 

The first store opened in America in 1985, and became a high street favourite. At its peak in 2004, the brand had 9,000 stores globally and earned $5.9 billion in revenue. 

It met its demise as it ultimately took too long to go digital, and filed for bankruptcy in 2010. 


This brand started as a football betting company in 1923 and developed into the mail order catalogue industry. Following the success, in 1937, the company expanded into its first high street store. At their peak they had around 22,000 stores and managed to become one of the biggest family-owned businesses in Britain.

However, the rise of online shopping proved difficult for Littlewoods. The company was sold off in 2002 and subsequently merged with onetime rival Kay’s Catalogues to later become the Shop Direct Group.


Founded in 1778(!), Debenhams grew to become an iconic British department store chain with 178 locations. Stocking items from clothing to furniture, its middle-to-high-end brand image was established for 243 years. 

Unfortunately, Debenhams had to file for bankruptcy twice in 2019 and 2020, and the final store closed in May 2021. 


Established as a photographic studio in 1937, Dixons became one of the biggest consumer electronics brands in Europe. Selling items like PCs, phones and even kitchen appliances, it ended up facing the same challenges as many other retail brands. 

The changing retail landscape meant Dixons made the decision to merge with Carphone Warehouse in 2014, resulting in memories of the brand slowly disappearing. 

Toys R Us

No matter who you are, it’s pretty likely that you have a place in your heart for Toys R Us. 

A haven for children all over the country, the brand closed its stores in 2018 after 34 years on the high street.

However… good news! The brand are returning, opening nine concessions in WHSmith stores. 


This American-owned bookshop chain was a fierce competitor to Waterstones prior to entering administration in 2009. At its peak, it had 41 shops around the UK.

The brand essentially couldn’t keep up with brands like Amazon, and didn’t develop into the e-reader market. 


Known for their iconic black and orange logo, Comet was a popular destination for electricals. It was once the UK’s second largest electrical retailer with 240 stores, but collapsed into administration in 2012 after being hit hard by the recession and their lack of ability to keep up with online retailers cost advantages. 

Are you feeling nostalgic yet?

Creating a great in-store experience isn't so easy.

But that's where we can help. Music isn't all we know, but it's in our soul, and when blended with tech and our knowledge of behavioural science we create branded retail store solutions and experiences that sync perfectly in tune with your business objectives.

Hey, we've just met you and this is crazy. But here's our number +44 (0)203 397 7676. So, call us maybe? Or get in touch here.

Image credits:

F.W Woolworth: Secretlondon English Wikipedia, CC BY -SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
Blockbuster Video: Regional Queenslander, CC BY-SA 4.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
Littlewoods: Ben Sutherland, CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
Debenhams: Mtaylor848, CC BY -SA 4.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
Dixons: Jan Hagelskamp1, CC BY 4.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
Toys R Us: Andreas Praefcke, CC BY 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
Borders: Thomas Nugent, CC BY-SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
Comet: Maurice Pullin, CC BY -SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

High-Street Stores We Miss

Abbie Dawson

Marketing Manager at Startle. I'm in charge of our marketing activity, making sure to spread the word of Startle to as many brands as possible. When I'm not working, you'll find me vinyl shopping to add to my collection or working out at the gym (usually making enemies with a punching bag).

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Hey, we've just met you and this is crazy. But here's our number +44 (0)203 397 7676. So, call us maybe?

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