Brexit, the Tories, business rates and VAT blamed for city shop’s closure

The sign in the window of Pure Magik

The Pure Magik shop has left a message in its window outlining who and what is to blame for the shop’s closure.

Pure Magik shut yesterday (Monday) and will no longer operate out of its St Peter’s Street premises.

A sign in the shopfront reads: “A combination of becoming VAT REG, lower footfall, increase in business tax rates and BREXIT has seen takings cut by 2/3.

“It’s a sad time for this High Street. Fuck this Tory government.”

The speciality shop is the latest casualty of the commercial troubles facing Canterbury.

Stunned shoppers read the notice on the Pure Magik window

But not everyone is pleased with message in Pure Magik’s window.

Dean Garbitt said: “Bit inappropriate for the High Street. And would be interested to know how Brexit has caused this closure?”

And Angela Dupont said: “I can well understand that business rates are a problem for small businesses, but blaming something that hasn’t happened and might not happen is going too far.

“Maybe there’s just not a big enough demand for the types of things being sold in what is clearly a niche market.”

Regardless of the exact reasons for Pure Magik’s closure, it comes in a bad year for city traders with both national chains and independents suffering.

It follows Nasons announcement that it will be closing its doors on September 11 after struggling in what the boss described as a “brutal” trading environment.

Poundworld in the High Street opposite the Beaney has also perished and the city’s Homebase store in Wincheap is also shutting.

Earlier this week it was the turn of Auntie Ammie’s Candy Store to announce it was closing after 33 years in Dover Street under various guises.


  1. Look out, someone’s been offended by the “inappropiate” language used. This or that is not appropiate, where will it end?

  2. Ultimately a business fails because they have not been successful in selling to enough customers. It’s very easy to blame everyone else and yes writing swear words where anybody of any age can see them is inappropriate.

  3. Well, to one degree or another, we all swear. Whether it’s right, or appropriate, to leave such a note in a High Street window is a moot point. Parents may not like to have their children exposed to rude, four letter words, lest they have to face, in public, a voluble toddler shouting “Mummy, Mummy, what does that funny word Tory mean?”

    I never shopped at Pure Magik (so it’s also my fault) but I rather suspect that Brexit would’ve been at the bottom of the list of reasons why footfall has decreased and turnover reduced. Since the 2016 referendum, the Pound has traded at about £1/€1.15 +/- a few cents. There’s never been a better for cross-Channel shoppers and judging by the crowds of French, Belgian, Dutch et al in some shops, pubs and other establishments, our European friends are taking full advantage. Whether they’re into New Age goodies, psychic paraphernalia, tarot cards/readings and esoteric ephemera I know not but somehow, I rather doubt it. To say the least, it’s an arcane, niche market and one which is increasingly addressed online, where the range of products is wider and the prices very competitive. Pure Magik appears not then to be a “victim” of Brexit. One might say, despite Brexit, the business has failed. A shame, yes but online shopping is big business, is very much on the up (c/o all of us) and may actually be viewed as the true villain of the piece.

    I doubt too, if VAT registration is the real cause of Pure Magik’s downfall. More of a cheap swipe at an entity (HMRC) which isn’t in much of a position to reply. Why so? Businesses with an annual turnover >£83k are obliged to register for VAT. Under this amount, businesses may de-register. If Pure Magik has seen a 2/3rd downswing in turnover (eg from £250k to £82,500 which is 33%) then logic says de-register, as the law allows. I’m sure, at this point, Brexiteers will leap in and remind us all that VAT is an EU-imposed tax but it matters not, if a trader (such as Pure Magik) need no longer be registered.

    Business Rates are indeed a serious issue for small businesses. Yes, there is Small Business Relief available but as the rate is a calculation based on the trading premises Rateable Value (set not by the Tory government but by the independent Valuation Office Agency) High Street businesses fare badly, by comparison to other locations. It’d be very sad, if Pure Magik’s demise could fairly be blamed, even in part, on Business Rates. Equally, if the entity which owns the site (isn’t this part of St.Peter’s Street owned by the Cathedral Dean & Chapter?) has been looking to charge more rent than is fair. Both Business Rates and Commercial Rents need a root and branch examination, if there is to be any hope for a diverse High Street with a retail future.

    Which then only leaves the Tory Government, in its fell role of the dastardly Grim Reaper, who’s evilly nipped off Pure Magik’s legs with his ruthless scythe. I know we live in a “blame culture” environment, so X, Y and Z is, or has surely got to be, someone’s/someone else’s fault, hasn’t it? No it hasn’t: the times they are a’changing and changing both quickly and brutally. I’m sorry Pure Magik has closed and I’m sorry too, that its staff will be keeping Nason’s employees company at JC+ but to blame our national government for this, given all that’s happening on High Streets everywhere, is just vapidly shallow and misleadingly vindictive. One may as well blame Peppa Pig, El Nino, alleged Labour Party anti-Semitism, ISIS, or that bloke on Love Island who looked at you in a funny way.

  4. Yes, all who have commented prove you don’t understand the impact of Brexit, in spite of all the evidence being reported every day. If the owners say it has contributed to their demise who are you to say otherwise?

  5. I’m very much afraid that the owners of Pure Magik have simply taken a cheap, disingenuous, swipe at a party and government they don’t like, rather than post up the brutal truth on their front door. If a shop’s over the counter trade shrinks by 2/3rds then quite simply, punters are either no longer interested in what it sells, or are placing their business with other suppliers. Evidence of the fickle nature of customer preference is to be seen in the windows of PoundWorld and Nason’s, as well as in the balance sheets of Amazon, eBay and other online retailers. We ain’t shoppin’ the way we used to!

    Perhaps the British retail industry should have seen this coming? Is it just the UK, or our central government, or Brexit, or just us? No. I placed Brexit at the bottom of the list of reasons why Pure Magik’s business failed for several, good, evidence-based reasons. You can see these for yourselves if you cross the Channel and walk up and down various Grandes Rues, Hoch Strasses and Strada Principales. Shops of all shapes, sizes and types are closing down, for the same reasons, with exactly the same consequences as we’re seeing back in Blighty and the poor, redundant employees don’t even have the equivalent of Brexit to blame.

    I regret to say that some folk blame Brexit for all their woes, as well as the hot (or rainy) weather, the fortunes of England’s football team and whatever else takes their fancy. If you voted remain (as I did, albeit with some reservations) then what transpired will rankle deeply. Since 2016 Brexit has become a convenient whipping boy, which is a little ironic, as 5/6 years ago it was the “bloody EU” which collected alot of our criticism. It still does, by the way, from citizens of countries which have not held referendums on EU membership. I travel/work in mainland Europe regularly and if British remainers think the EU is a land of milk and honey, crammed full of Brussels-loving Europhiles who go round hugging each other, then think on! Were referendums to be held in, for example, Italy, Sweden and Germany next week, there’s a good chance that our vocabularies would need to be enlarged to include Itexit, Svexit and Dexit. I don’t go to Hungary or Greece but I believe the same, deep-rooted EU dissatisfaction is rife there too.

    As to the question “who am I to say otherwise?” my answer is simple. I am and enjoy the privilege of being, a British subject, expressing his personal opinion, in a free, unfettered way. In the UK (in or out out of the EU) we all have this hard-won right. Long may that continue to be the case for all of us.


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