King of Excellent (according to Scaryduck)

Thursday, February 21

The High Street vs the consumer

I got to pondering last night about the UK's consumer market. The market is very bouyant at the moment, and yet things are not right about the way us as the consumers are treated. Let me give you an example close to home.
Someone wants to buy a PC. They have a two tiered choice, being a small independent shop with low overheads, friendly staff and a slightly increased cost because of service, or a high street retailer with huge overheads, impersonal untrained staff, but cheaper PCs. If you want quality, you buy from the independent, but if you want cheap and cheerful, you buy from the high street. But is this the case? A lot of independents are now more then competitive when it comes to pricing of computers. They have a lot more experience of different solutions to buyer's needs, and they are a lot easier to get your new PC sorted if a problem should arise. As little as 20 years ago, salesmen on shop floors were taught "the customer's always right." This meant that each shop fairly competed with their neighbour and the market was better for it. Nowadays problems with goods bought, and you find with the larger retailer in the high street that you have to justify getting the thing repaired. You have to do what they want to get it fixed, and no amount of shouting or throwing a strop will get it done otherwise. For such a market to be this strong, the Independent's readers would call it a 'consumer's market,' but is it? Will it get any better for us with the cash? I doubt it. I can see the big chains like Tesco or Asda making it even less convenient to buy in the high street. In the meantime does this affect the small time shop? Of course a walk down any high street in Britain gives testimony to how incorrect the market has become. Pound shop after pound shop adorn the shop fronts, or empty units up for lease, but no longer can quality shops be found. The high street is no longer the high street, being moved to out of town 'enterprise zones' full to the brim with Matalan/Brantano/Lidl.
A buyer's market? I doubt that very much.