Industrial Concentration and Retail Trade.

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 23rd July 1942.

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Photo of Mr Hugh Dalton Mr Hugh Dalton , Bishop Auckland

They are in the possession of the Board of Trade; similar figures were put before the Retail Trade Committee for their deliberation. These are Board of Trade figures based upon our own inquiries, and many of them are published in the "Board of Trade Journal."

If I may take different articles to get a picture of the position, the sales of footwear last year—I am still talking in terms of value including Purchase Tax—were no less than 33 per cent. above the pre-war level. On the other hand, the sales of furniture were 15 per cent. lower, and of hardware and crockery were more than 20 per cent. lower. I mention that to show the variation between different articles. Another very interesting figure is the very sharp drop that has taken place in the number of bankruptcies in the non-food retail trade as compared with pre-war. In 1941 there were only 161 bankruptcies in that section, as compared with 1,280 in 1938. We should not, of course, take too much comfort from those figures. There are reasons for them, none the less they are very interesting. There is no doubt that the diminution in the number of bankruptcies is partly due to the fact that stocks can be disposed of very easily compared with pre-war days, so that when a man closes down he has no difficulty in disposing of his stocks and paying off, at all events, a large part of his debts.