SIR – I was interested in the comments by Adam Marshall of the British Chamber of Commerce on the return to shopping in the high street after lockdown, broadcast on the Chopper’s Politics podcast last week.
As a cycle retailer, permitted to remain open throughout lockdown, I experienced one of the busiest periods in my 30-year career. With reduced staff and a strict one-out, one-in policy, we did well to cope with the huge increase in retail demand.
One lesson from those weeks is that customers waiting patiently for their turn in the store are essentially “pre-sold”: they have either bought something online and are collecting, or they know that what they want is in stock, making the whole process efficient.
Secondly, their ability to linger and browse is reduced – after all, there’s a queue outside. Browsing relies on staff time, space and display. These are obvious traits of a shop, but are they as important as previously thought?
With millions of shops on dwindling high streets, should the retail sector take the opportunity to change traditional ways of shopping?
It could sell to the customer online by click and collect, or through pre-booked sales appointments using FaceTime and Zoom. Then, a shop, with reduced overheads, becomes more like a depot.
SIR – Surely there is too much gloom about the demise of high street shopping. Many commentators (and even some retailers) seem convinced that the leap in popularity of internet shopping is the “new normal”.
But, have they fully taken account of the fact that when the crisis is over most people will no longer be at home all the time, and will be unable to receive deliveries?
It seems more likely that people will revert to shopping in the high street, where they can try on a suit or dress, instead of waiting for delivery, finding the item unsuitable and having to return it.
Where thanks are due
SIR – I would like to thank my husband (Letters, July 9). He is a key worker. He is a forklift truck driver for a large supermarket chain.
We both would like to thank his lucky stars he has a job.
TV licence or jail
SIR – I have checked the TV licence web page to find out who will go to jail for non-payment in a house of two over-75s, but I could not find the answer. Do my wife and I both go?
SIR – It will take the savings of 16 Rishi Sunak subsidised meals to cover the £157.50 for a TV licence. As an over-75, is it an obesity risk worth taking, or should I simply accept the 1.7 per cent reduction to my state pension?
SIR – I am always prepared to pay top dollar for any product whose quality matches the price. Unfortunately, the BBC’s current output doesn’t fit this criterion. The daily programmes are repeats and puerile game shows.
SIR – During lockdown, I paid for a Netflix subscription. I’ve just cancelled it; the content is mainly dross.
The BBC may have the most misguided senior management, but it can still make good programmes.
SIR – How did pensioners feel before 2000, when Gordon Brown introduced this perk as a bribe for the grey vote? They paid without complaint, I imagine.
I don’t mind paying £3.03 a week.
R you there?
SIR – I am concerned. Where is the R number? On holiday? Self-isolating? No longer with us? We need to know.