High Street stalwart, Marks & Spencer has reported a slump in profits by a third, and like for like sales also down sharply. Basically, customers are not shopping there as often as they did – and the CEO was interviewed on BBC saying that it was the general economic climate etc as people trade down a bit.
Nope – its the lack of free carrier bags which is driving people away.
I range across a fair number of shops depending on my mood, and if I choose to go into a premium brand store, then I expect a premium service. Frankly, that includes providing decent carrier bags for my shopping – and not charging for them. Also, it helps if the bags offered are slightly more substantial than a sheet of tissue paper. I am always terrified that the M&S plastic bags will break if I put anything heavier than a sandwich in them.
Yes, they are being eco-friendly etc., but the fact is that I tend to reuse my plastic bags for holding rubbish, and if I don’t have them then I only have to go out and buy some bin liners instead, which is hardly a saving. I know people will complain about plastic bags being washed up in rivers and sea shore, but that is not an automatic end-result from shops handing out plastic bags, but is the result the stupid humans who can’t be bothered to dispose of them properly.
I do own a nice cloth bag (with comfy handles!), but it doesn’t fold up nicely – and is branded as Waitrose – so I tend to only use it when I want to go for a big shopping trip, and generally only if going to Waitrose or the Borough Market. If I am on the way home in the evening, tired and really just not in the mood to cook – I’ll grab a pizza or similar when I get to Canary Wharf.
Do I go to M&S or Tesco? Before the stupid carrier bag debacle, I would pop into M&S as it is closer – but now I walk a bit further and go to Tesco as frankly I really do object to a retailer dictating its eco-credentials to me in the way M&S does.
A fair number of my friends think the same – and so I am not surprised to see M&S sales declining like this.