The two sets of country folk who have got in touch following my piece in the last issue about Camelot’s change of rules over minimum sales are not amused. In fact, one labelled it ‘weird’ and another called it ‘strange’.
The latter wrote anonymously: “What a strange coincidence. We, too, are classed as a community store and are in a semi-rural location and we serve the needs of three small villages.
“We have just received a letter about a new weekly sales target of £800, or the possible removal of the terminal as we may no longer qualify as community status. There is a Co-op about two miles away.”
(Camelot’s new minimum target is being cut from £1K a week to £800, while its ‘community outlet’ status has been redefined to be exempt from it the outlet must be more than a four-mile drive from any National Lottery terminal.)
Camelot tells me that under the old definition - no other lottery for two miles, as the crow flies - there were 392 eligible community outlets. Under the new measure there are 578, an increase of 186 valid outlets.
I thought my other correspondent, Diane Bell, writing from PO Stores, Nettleton, Chippenham, was quite right to use the word ‘weird’.
She writes: “We opened our rural general stores/PO in 1977. We enquired about the lottery, but didn’t fulfil the criteria, so didn’t pursue it. Last year EVERY village shop in the vicinity was offered the lottery (via the Post Office), with no sales targets. Whenever a surveyor visited I pointed out that no way would I ever reach the original £1,000 per week target - I am in the middle of a village with no passing trade - but no one seemed to listen.
“I duly went on a training course and the equipment was installed last September. I have now received a letter from Camelot informing me that if I don’t increase my sales to £800 per week, within a 60-day period, the terminal will be removed!”
She probably averages £150 a week and says there is no hope of improvement. And she says: “I can’t understand why the lottery was virtually foisted upon us all without any proper research at the outset.”
All I know is that Camelot suspended its Sales Improvement Programme (SIP) last year while it carried out a multi-million pound expansion of its retail estate. Now SIP is back and there will be a few casualties.
Camelot says the numbers that will be taking part in the 60-day sales measurement programme are “very small”.