Worst Retailer

In the news today, a survey (admittedly, of only 8,000-ish people) lists WHSmith as the worst retailer, for the second year running.

Which doesn’t surprise me – to be honest, the only thing that ever surprises me about WHSmith is that they continue to keep trading. They’ve been in my retail dead pool for about a decade now, and they keep stumbling on.

Personally, I rarely (if ever) darken the doors of a WHSmith. They simply don’t do what I want to buy, there are plenty of places that are cheaper/better, and (to me) most of the stores look dull and dirty.  I’m not saying they are dull and dirty, but they look it – again, to me.

The most recent example of this was a couple of weekends ago, I was in a place I’d not been before, and they had a big WHSmith store.  But from the outside, the lighting inside was so dull that it looked as though the store wasn’t actually open.  Just grim.


The thing that interested me in the story was this :

Every week we serve three million customers in our 600 UK High Street stores

That doesn’t seem like a very big figure, to be honest.  So I worked it out.

3,000,000 divided between 600 stores is 5,000 customers per store. Per week.  Which isn’t much.

And then you average it out over the seven days of the week – I’ll round it up to the nearest whole, as .25 of a person is ridiculous – and you get 715 people per store per day.   Which really isn’t a lot. I can’t see how those numbers all the stores to break even, let alone make a profit.

I truly don’t understand how they stay in business

For Fuck’s Sake

Last night, I went in to my local Tesco.

And was greeted with this.

No, Tesco. It’s September. So you, and your “Christmas is coming” bollocks can fuck right off.

More New Greenery

Having sorted out some new pots and plants earlier this week, I’d been thinking about a couple of small trees to put in Big Pots, which should finish things off nicely.

Today, I got some – two ‘patio apple’ trees and pots for them to go in.  They’ve been outside all the time anyway, so they’re now planted out and situated where I want them to be.

I’m done for now with plants, I think. I do want to find a more comfortable table and chair(s) next, although that can wait a while ’til I see what there is that I like.  I’m not in a hurry – I’ve a chair that’s serviceable, but I do want to find something better. I just have to know it’s better before I buy it…

An Organised Christmas

ScroogeIt’s well-known that I’m not the greatest fan of the Festering Season. I do observe it and sort things out for family and closest friends, but still tend to avoid the overboard hysteria of the entire season. There’s a whole number of reasons for being this way, and I can’t be arsed with going into them on this. It’s a subject that’s been pretty much done to death anyway.

This year,the run-up to the Festering Season has all been remarkably organised and gone very smoothly, which is a thing of joy.

Everything possible was done, bought, organised, and (where necessary) posted or delivered a couple of weeks ago. The only thing that remained – albeit in two stages – was food-based, getting the week’s food order in, and then today collecting the final pre-ordered bits, which was all done at Antisocial O’clock this morning, when the roads and shops were still blissfully empty.

I hate food shopping in the week before Christmas – the shops are just full of tosspots going mad because the shops are going to be closed for a whole 30 hours.  I never understood why there always seem to be more people at Christmas, all of whom are buying more. Surely if it’s all about entertaining and having guests, there’d be half the number of people but buying twice as much? Only it doesn’t work out that way.

Internet-based shopping (and delivery thereof) has made this whole process as painless as possible. So long as you’re organised, you can book a slot in the week up to Christmas, order everything you know you want, and that’s it. Yes, there’s the slight roulette of out-of-stock items and so on, but that’s more about luck and timing than anything else.  In my case, I got the delivery on Monday and everything I’d ordered was in stock and all was easy and fine.  Indeed, the worst thing about it was that I had to lock the cats out of the living room while everything was delivered, which disturbed them quite a lot – I don’t think they’d actually realised the door could be closed, let alone be closed with them on The Other Side.

Collecting the final pre-ordered bits today was also painless – in and out, no hassles.

It really is a most civilised way to do things.

A Bag For Life

Over the weekend, while I was out shopping, the person in front of me’s “bag for life” split open.

What really surprised me though, was the attitude of the person on the till, and (by inference) that of the store.

You see, the ‘bag for life’ was from a different store – so the till person (quoting store/company rules) wouldn’t change it for one from that store.

Oh, you can only change that at those shops, we won’t take them

Which begs the question – why?  If it were me in charge of doing that, then I’d be happy to take a competitor’s bag and give my customer a branded bag advertising my own store/company instead. But no, it seems that each supermarket/store brand will only exchange bags of their own brand, rather than taking those from other stores.

Seems bizarre to me.

Not Always Sensible, Though

Of course, following on from the post about trying to be more sensible and have a bit of down-time, I was still busy all weekend…

As it was, the weekend consisted of

  • Braving Ikea on a weekend, for a present for a friend’s young child. (New range, cool stuff, needed to be done) In particular, this. Which is nicely warped, and amused me lots.
  • Driving across to Oxford to see a friend
  • Then going with her to a quiz-night thing
  • And getting back at well-past midnight, then also not getting to sleep ’til nearly two (get your minds out of the gutter, nothing like that!)
  • Driving back home on the Sunday
  • Generally geeking out and working on stuff

So fun, but not really restful, per se… 🙂

A Very Good Deal

Over the weekend, my toaster finally died. (You can tell this one’s going to be interesting, can’t you?) It’s done fairly well, daily service for three years, if not more. Over Easter it had started playing up, but then on Saturday it gave up completely.

So – off to the retail superstore of gloom. (It’s closest, I couldn’t be arsed with faffing about too much, and I had some vouchers to use up)

I had a look, and decided on this one, mainly because it’s purple – I’m shallow like that – and because it was £10 off the marked price, so £40 instead of £50. Fair enough.

But when I got to the tills, it scanned at … hang on … £19?  OK, I’ll check it with the customer services, but that’ll do.

As it was, I also had a number of vouchers (all in “You would’ve saved £x at a different store, so here’s the difference” price-match vouchers) that came to £25. So I effectively ended up with Tesco paying me £6 for my new toaster…

I don’t know quite how it all worked out like that, but I’m not going to complain.

[Additional] : When I went to customer services to check, in case a) the price was wrong or b) their system was wrong, I waited ages to be seen and then the person involved said “Oh, for electrical enquiries you’ve got to go back upstairs and ask them“. To which my thought response was “Fuck that, if you can’t be arsed to check it, I can’t be arsed to report it any further“.

So – a nice new toaster for  the princely sum of minus six pounds.  I can live with that.