Having decided I needed a few items for my hols I made a trip into town to buy trainers, books and a cover for my iPhone.
The phone cover was easy to purchase but I could not find either the trainers (in the correct size) or the books I wanted.
It took less than ten minutes to buy them on the internet and only 48 hours to have them delivered to my door. The carriers even sent me a text to advise delivery time.
This is what our town centres are up against. It’s the reason internet sales are expanding exponentially as High Street trade dwindles. Even the big chains are seeing their like-for-like store sales stagnate as their online income explodes.
Ploughing ahead, as CEC is doing, with a Macclesfield town centre scheme based on historic trading patterns is a high-risk strategy.
HMV, Clintons Cards, Jessops, Comet, Blockbuster, JJB and Peacocks all found the ground moving beneath their feet. Retail giants Next and McDonalds moved out of the town centre. What does that tell you?
Marks and Spencer chose not to trade in the centre of Congleton, preferring an edge-of-town retail park for their new store. If we are to stay ahead of the trend we need to read the signs.
The rules are changing rapidly as each quarter produces startling new evidence of a retail revolution. CEC is trying to catch a moving train. Simply jumping off the platform and hoping for the best is likely to get us crushed under the wheels.
Store’s roundabout placement is round the bend
Okay, here’s what I want you to do. Drive to Congleton heading for the M6 and take a look at the West Road roundabout.
Once home to the Waggon and Horses it now hosts a Tesco Express store on one of the most congested traffic islands in Cheshire. Standing just 800 metres from the main Tesco store on Barn Road this development makes no sense.
The obvious requirement was a compulsory purchase followed by demolition to enable the heavy traffic to flow more freely and improve road safety. Tesco however had other ideas and, as there had been a previous retail business on the site, no change of use planning was required.
Just because the site was suitable for a pub 150 years ago doesn’t make it appropriate for a retail store today. Anyone planning to build a house on that ground would have been laughed out of the town hall. There would have been access issues and safety restrictions galore – and rightly so.
This new Express store has already created traffic chaos. With a massive Tesco just one minute away it isn’t fulfilling any public need.
Don’t take my word, go there and tell me it’s not insanity.
Booking holiday on web was as much rip-off as jet off
I’ve just booked a holiday on the internet. Some of these ‘low-cost’ airlines have really tricky websites. It’s like playing cards against a professional gambler – they don’t reveal much until you have to pay, by which time you’ve spent too long entering all your data to quit.
I’m travelling with an airline who concluded my booking by informing me that my seat was an ‘extra’ costing £15. As the dictionary defines ‘extra’ as: ‘an item in addition to what is usual’, I found it difficult to imagine what ‘usual’ might be.
Then there was an admin fee of £24, followed by web check-in fee of the same amount, plus an EU Levy of £8, a credit card fee of £6.62, a baggage fee of £70 plus an astounding £129.94 in taxes and a further £143.96 for the flight. Total £467.52 against the advertised fare of £143.
So where does the ‘low cost’ element come in? I’m sure we’ll find out during the flight.
Now comes the printing of the boarding pass, for which you need the patience of a Trappist monk combined with skills rarely seen outside Bletchley Park.
Should you fail by even one digit to enter the exact information and need another boarding card you will be charged a fee of £70. (You can get it printed on a Ted Baker T-shirt for £30).
There is nothing ‘friendly’ about these websites. If we ever make it through the web of trip wires and charges, I’ll let you know the outcome. In the meantime, happy holiday.