Tuesday 9 August 2011

Retailers must resist exodus from riot hot spots

There has been a simple rule of thumb to rioters’ attacks on shops. If its goods are desirable and portable (shoes, clothes, electrical goods), you nick them. You may even pause to check that your stolen trainers fit. If stock is too heavy to carry (carpets, furniture), you torch the place.
Such calculated criminality damages interpretations of the riots as a cri de coeur from the inner city. But while deprivation is no excuse for the unrest, it is one root cause. Businesses should resist the temptation to withdraw from poor neighbourhoods where rioters have attacked outlets of companies such as Carpetright, Dixons, JD Sports, and Boots. The problem will otherwise worsen. Staying on to rebuild, as Carpetright founder Lord Harris plans to do, is a better test of corporate social responsibility than attending conferences on that slippery subject.