Mothercare, a stalwart of the high street since 1961, yesterday [July 9] announced the closure of 60 shops in the next 12 months, putting 900 jobs at risk.
With Mothercare now battling to keep its relevance on a high street fierce with competition in clothing, and fraught with a host of other pressures – from the growth of online to a squeeze in customer spending – boss Mark Newton-Jones described the UK market as “frankly quite brutal”.
But what do parents make of the store’s offering? HuffPost UK headed to Kingston in Surrey, a major shopping town, to ask parents on the high street what they thought – and where else was doing better.
Dunia Alhaydari, 27, two children: ‘It’s too crowded in store.’
“I sometimes shop at Mothercare, I’d say once every couple of months to buy clothes and toys but I also shop in Next, Joules, and M&S - and I’d say their quality is much better and the clothes sizes are a little bit bigger than at Mothercare,” Alhaydari, out shopping with her young daughter, told HuffPost UK.
“Sometimes I find that Mothercare clothes shrink and that they’re a bit more expensive as well. I also shop online. In store at Mothercare it’s a bit boring and the staff seem unhappy. It’s also crowded.”
Erynn Kortekaas, 35, two children: ‘I wouldn’t go there for clothing.’
“When my son was newborn I shopped at Mothercare often, but now not at all,” Kortekaas, a mother of a six-year-old and 18-month-old son told HuffPost UK.
“I shop at H&M and Marks & Spencer sometimes - maybe because I go into H&M for myself also, but also because the prices are very good and the quality is reasonable for the price of the clothes.
“I think for buying things like buggies and car seats it’s so useful to go in somewhere like Mothercare where you can see things in person, and where they have a wide selection - but I guess I wouldn’t go there for clothing.
“[My advice] would be for Mothercare to focus on those sort of products more than clothes. And that’s what a lot of shops don’t have and it’s difficult to buy those items online - it’s nice to be able to see a variety and try and test them.”
Ryan Moore, 36, one child: ‘I find it a bit dated.’
“We initially shopped there when he was born because he was our first born and we didn’t know of any shops,” Moore told HuffPost UK. “I just find it a little bit dated. These days we tend to shop more at places like Zara and H&M.
“We just found just even walking in to Mothercare that the layout is not particularly great - even the stock feels dated even though it’s probably brand new and current. Maybe it’s the shop fittings that don’t really best sell the products.
“We tend to use the high street more for shopping for the baby than online. John Lewis are quite good.”
Laura, 29, one child: ‘I really like it, it’s convenient.’
Laura, a 29-year-old mother of one who only wished to share her first name, told HuffPost UK: “I shop at Mothercare I’d say once every few months. I really like it – it’s convenient and we got our pram from there.
“I think sometimes the problem possibly is that, especially being a new mum, I go more and more online to do my shopping because it’s really hard to get out of the house sometimes.
“When I was pregnant, I actually went there more often than now. One thing I do find in Mothercare is the sizing isn’t quite right, whereas somewhere like JoJo Maman Bébé fits better, so I tend to go to those kind of shops before I go to Mothercare. But I do like Mothercare.”
Jamelia Mulvey, 25, one child: ‘It’s more expensive than competitors but with good customer service.’
“I do shop in Mothercare but not that often, probably once or twice every couple of months. I’ve never had any problems in Mothercare, for example if I’ve needed a refund they’ve always been really great,” says Jamelia, who has a 10-month-old baby.
“It’s definitely a lot more expensive [than other competitors] - for example even their formula is more expensive than it would be in a supermarket,” she told HuffPost UK.“Some shops don’t sell what they have - for example some of their babygrows, bags or buggies are limited edition.
“Otherwise I shop a little bit of everywhere - Primark, Gap, Next, H&M.”