As the Woolworths brand continues apace here in Australia with plans to buy consumer entertainment group JB HiFi, having already cornered a big part of the grocery, liquor, petrol, hotel and pub markets in the great Australian duopoly/monopoly theory of capitalism, UK Woolies is on the chopping block for the cost of a modest bag of pick 'n mix.
Woolworths was always a very familiar place during my childhood and many Scottish High Streets can be marked in my memory by Woolworths as an anchor tenant. They have been doing business in the UK for almost a century. It will be a devastating black hole and a very visible reminder of a business strategy gone bad.
'I quite like Woolies, but basically it's all just a bit crap isn't it?' says one browser, Steve, as he leaves empty-handed. A woman is buying plastic coathangers; another is discussing Advent calendars with a member of staff; and a boy is briefly mesmerised by a musical Santa which dances and plays the saxophone, before his mother drags him away. At the till, two young women lean with their chins in their hands, chatting to the security guard.
It wasn't always like this: Woolies once had a shop on every British high street and a special place in the hearts of millions of bargain-hungry shoppers. It was famous for selling anything from sixpenny toys to brown paper and string.
My grandmother used to love to browse around Woolworths for a bargain. I don't get the feeling that this generation values that shopping experience quite as much. Rather, a more focused offer is important.
Sad all the same.