As the retail giants pervert customer contact, local stores must promote their humanity

An angry Mary Portas, heralded by the media as a 'retail guru', tells readers of the Daily Telegraph that supermarkets are killing local communities with the result that neighbourhood shopkeepers are being replaced by faceless checkout staff. She attacks self-scanning which, she says, destroys human interaction between shoppers and staff.

Adding her voice to the raging protests against the monumental corporate grocery retailers, Mary says the rise of the supermarket giants "and our love affair with them" is killing Britain's small shops.

She urges her readers to visit their local high streets but not out of sympathy or nostalgia. Support local shops, she says, to benefit from a wealth of experience and personal attention.

Mary correctly points out that it is this love affair which is the root cause of the outrageous power now residing in the hands of a few dominating monoliths. She should have added that this affair has been nourished by successive governments to a stage where future regulation will be at the margins. Independents now need to take more tactical action.

Self-scanning is completely dehumanising retail customers, removing any acknowledgement of their custom. So remind your shoppers that you smile, chat and appreciate their visit, and that a chip-based Dalek will never be on your payroll.

People's anger is reaching new levels. Communities believe the big corporations are taking the mickey. When the queue for service at our big Nationwide building society branch snakes out of the building into the street and grim-faced depositors need their umbrellas in a downpour, is it not a sign that fat cat chief executives in every market, smitten with the same profit-lust, are losing the plot?

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