Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Meat, fruit and veg

CityUnslicker over at C@W ponders the HMV closedown and the future of the High Street; Simon Heffer in the Mail fails to buy a single thing from John Lewis, and even the Guardian punts for a High Street of 'socially responsible niche service providers such as child care and coffee shops'. The political spectrum is united, it seems, in a desire to preserve the vitality and feasibility of our High Streets. We've lost Woolworths, Jessops, HMV, Comet, Clinton Cards and Borders and surely, one ponders, WH Smiths and Boots can't be far behind. Meanwhile, Tesco has become an unwitting Boucherie Chevaline and punters will mourn the withdrawal of the tastiest of its range of burgers (29% Cheval). Never mind; nearly all proper continental salamis and sausages contain horse. That's why they taste better than Mattessons' products. 

As an early-adopter, the first thing I found about online-ordered groceries was never to order fresh fish, meat, fruit or veg. The packer will always pick the oldest or most unattractive stock. So I came to use the online order for beer and mineral water, tins, packets, jars and utterly homogenous packed products. For everything else, I make the choice personally. It works very well. I suspect many others do the same, and so here is an area of retail that has half a chance on the High Street.

The other massive deficiency is deliveries. Many folk who order on the web work during the day. So when are their systems geared to make deliveries? During the day, of course. So on every Saturday morning tens of thousands of customers head to parcel depots on obscure industrial estates to retrieve their goods. It's really not an efficient system. If they could find a way to deliver goods to within the last 250m they'd be onto a winner; a High Street shop as a parcel collection point, open to 10pm, would fill another void.  

As others have pointed out, the retail chains now in such trouble were largely just mechanisms for passing shoppers' cash to property investors. Rents and rates for retail premises must fall, as will the value of High Street portfolios. Tough.  


Scrobs... said...

Perhaps one way is for Tesco, or Waitrose, to buy up one side of a High Street, and manage each individual shop as an entirety, selling meat from one, fish from another etc.

There will be enough parking, as this was arranged years ago.

Like you say though, retail is king - if you stay in front!

TrT said...

"As an early-adopter, the first thing I found about online-ordered groceries was never to order fresh fish, meat, fruit or veg. The packer will always pick the oldest or most unattractive stock."

Ive never found that to be the case, they simply grab the first one.
They dont care enough to look for bad quality.

I'm sure the parcel pick up point is on the way, but it wont be the high street, it'll be the corner shop.

Anonymous said...

Well I reckon that the landlord and the tax man (not necessarily in that order) is/are king.

As for collections, your local camera laden, secure(ish) petrol station.... (I hesitate to call it a "garage").

Anyway, I suspect that the high street landlord is still doing OK, but the local council is going to lose quite a lot of UBR income, but will be too stupid to re-allocate high street property from A1,2,3 etc., to residential, the bureaucracy operates like a computer and won't realise that no income is worse than council tax income.

G. Tingey said...

"a High Street shop as a parcel collection point, open to 10pm,"
They already exist. They are called ...
{Opening hours need altering, with shifts...)
HMV was predicatable - Jessops going under is a disaster ....
Part of HMV's problem has been the greed & stupidity of the disc manufacturers - they have been overpricing & restricting supply & generally crapping on the customer since at least 1960 ....

Of course, with the exception of Onions, I no longer normally buy veg - I grow it.
For meat & fish I rely on personal, individual suppliers, whos supply-chain (if it exists) is known & trustworthy. It is actually cheaper in the long run - no waste at all - & tastier, of course.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Pavlov's Cat said...

a High Street shop as a parcel collection point, open to 10pm, would fill another void.
I have seen recently in shall we say some of the 'dodgier ' parts of of Sarf London ( Downham, Sydenham, Camberwell. )

Amazon have set up collection lockers in the Co-Op
Your goods are put in the locker. You are give a pin no. and go along and collect it. Put the pin into the touch screen and the door pops open. collect your parcel

Anonymous said...

@GT - agreed.

Our local Spar is already a collection point; open from 07:00 to 23:00 almost every day.

"Boutique" and specialist shops have long been the way forward in France, with their towns and village streets lined with all those names you had to learn in high school French lessons. Large scale hypermarket developments are all out of town - a long way out of town! The fact is, they coexist.

My home town of Chester and it's council (of any colour!) has yet to learn that charging £2000 to £3000 per month business rates for a small butcher shop on one of the main streets is not a recipe for longevity; hence they have now all but disappeared, along with all the other nice shops that once were. On one of the main streets, once a pretty "market town" type street, there is now 3 "pound" shops, a pawn broker, a Tesco store (full size and shoe-horned in with multi-storey car park) a Yates' wine lodge, two charity shops, two betting shops and a once nice pub that you wouldn't frequent these days. Frodsham Street has long abandoned any form of "civic pride"; abundant in French towns and villages. Oh, and the money for the council rates has dried up as well.

Coney Island

Weekend Yachtsman said...

Greg, Post Offices indeed.

But they need to get rid of their Nationalised-Industry approach to opening hours.

And they especially need to get rid of the mentality that has a small shop which contains a post officem, and which is open, but cannot do post office business because they're limited to "post office hours" - and the smaller the shop, the more restrictive those hours will be.

So there's the computer, there's the staff, and you can't have the service. Pathetic.

G. Tingey said...

Not so much "nationalised industry" as politically-controlled-&-ripped-off.
THEGPO has been royally shafted by every single guvmint, irrespective of party. See your own comments about restrictive hours.
They've taken the money, then NOT let the staff & management run it properly.
Having a really shady crook in charge 2002-3(4?) really didn't help, either.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @16 January 2013 09:00
I understand that business rates are set and retained by central gov and the local council just collects it. If it was set and retained by local gov then it may well serve to focus councillor minds on the needs of business.

Bill Quango MP said...

The new model for the Post Office, as outlined by the PO itself is to close all their current POs and move them into convenience stores and supermarkets.
This gives the longer hours.

It will also mean the end of being able to send a parcel as that business doesn't make nearly as much money as a row of beans.

The real solution is so obvious I'm surprised no one has thought of it.

Royal mail deliver from 9am until 3pm. If they went from 3pm - 9pm, then the majority would be in. And if they left that 'while you were out' card, you could ask for redelivery after , say 7pm.
not difficult to do. Except the unions would never allow it.

Sceptical Steve said...

In our off-duty moments, my boss and I regularly brainstorm ideas that might provide a salvation for the traditional pub.
One of my favouraites is that pubs should become colection points for online purchases.
Just consider it
1. With the impact of the smoking ban, pubs need a new role to help give them a genuine purpose and reconnect them to the community.
2. Pubs traditionally remain open all day and many stay open until midnight, i.e. precisesly when people would want to be able to call in and collect their purchases.
3. Unlike many high street stores, pubs have car parks.
4. It would be the most natural thing in the world for the punters to have a coffee or a drink whilst they wait to collect their purchases.
5. I'm always keen to find a new reason for going to the pub!

G. Tingey said...

To save the pub, you need to nuke the greedy & stupid pubcos & forcibly make all pubs true "free houses".
That would do the trick.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

@BQ: moving the PO's into convenience stores does NOT give the longer hours; that was exactly what I was complaining about.

The PO is moved, the equipment is there, the shop is "open all hours" or some approximation thereto, and still they are not allowed to provide PO services outside PO hours. No Saturday afternoons; no Sundays at all; no late nights. No sir, computer says no. Yes we're open, no we can't give you your pension.

You will find this is true all over the Highlands, and probably in remoter parts of England too.

Bill Quango MP said...

Weekend Yachtsman

You have misunderstood. The old PO plan was to combine PO with con stores to provide a second revenue stream and allowed PO to have no employees. Only agents.

The new plan, now the old plan has failed, is to turn the shopkeeps till into a limited post office. It will be open all the time.

Its still a crap plan. 1st, the remuneration is much to low to make it worthwhile for many.. After all, if the young girl on the till pays out £600 in pension instead of £60, in error, it would take some 2500 more pension transactions to earn back the missing money.

2nd .. the PO seems to believe that the queue for a parcel and a pension and a basket of groceries won't be any longer than it is at present. Clearly a fantasy.

And the payment for handing out a customer's delivered parcel is about 10p. Seeing as this involves a member of the staff going to a secure area and locating a parcel, this payment wouldn't even cover the actual cost of a minimum wage employee fetching your package.

RM and PO will sort it out eventually. But only by charging you for your parcel collection. Why they don't, i don't know. 50p to collect from a location near to you doesn't seem too much to ask. It could be added to the purchase price during the delivery options on the seller's website.