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In the modern world of e-commerce, have shops forgotten the basic principles?

I did not enjoy my christmas shopping one bit. This was partly because I started in December. Apparently, this is a mistake. In this modern age, you are best having everything bought and wrapped by early October! Anyway, one of the problems I'm facing in shops these days, and not only at christmas time, is that they don't have what I want.

Supply and demand is the basic fundamental principle upon which trading is based. I am convinced that I'm not alone in wanting the items I look for, but they fail to be available, time and time again. I would like to list some of the things which I completely fail to find these days:

That last item is almost impossible to get, though I have found and bought it in quantity on some occasions. It seems odd that shops don't stock it, since they stock other products from the same manufacturer. Worse still is shops who sell out of their products and never bother restocking. The classic case in point is Marks and Spencer.

As I reported in December, Marks and Spencer (for it was they) had run out of an item I wished to buy as a christmas present. They ran out at the beginning of December. It was bound to be a popular item and, rather than order a larger supply, and guarantee that they'd make more profit, they seemed to choose the route of buying few enough to guarantee that there would be none left for their post-Christmas sale.

Shops are there both to profit from their sales and provide a service to their customers. Goodwill comes from a balance between these two. My M&S shares are plummeting in value and the reason is simple. People don't give a toss about giving goodwill to Marks and Spencer, because Marks and Spencer is as crap as most other high street shops and it is nowhere nearly as cheap. The recent advertising campaign, suggesting that size 18 women are "normal", did nothing for M&S except guarantee that the oversized garments, which would have brought instant divorce from my partner if bought, were the only ones available throughout the whole of the last busy christmas shopping month.

I'm no expert on commerce or economics, but it seems obvious to me that shops are dropping the ball. By offering a paucity of choice and virtually no quality, they are not meeting my demands and those of many others, no doubt.

Written: 10 January 2001
Posted: 08 May 2001
Ashley Frieze