WHSmith a failing High Street chain

Can it get any worse with WHSmith?

Unfortunately, oh yes.

I wanted to give a present each to two sisters. I decided upon Manuscript Found in Accra, pick up now, as on special offer in WHSmith.

Yes, on special offer, but try finding a shop that knows, or has in stock.

Knowing where not in stock, or no more than one, I thought I would try where I had not yet tried.

WHSmith Farnborough had a grand total of one copy in stock.

This was getting to be beyond a sick joke. I sought out the assistance of a member of staff.

What she told me was unbelievable, they had just sent back seven copies.

I pointed out, sticker on book clearly said, Buy One, Get one Half Price, how is this possible when you only have one copy in stock?

A second sticker said book was £3-99, ie half price.

She then bizarrely told me, you do not have to buy the second one of that book, you can buy something else!

I am wishing to buy Manuscript Found in Accra, but I am told maybe I should buy something else!

Books have become commodities, like baked beans, out of stock of one variety, well buy a different variety.

She questions why I wish to buy two copies of the same book, tells me this is not what people usually do. Buying two copies of the same book, is apparently seen as abnormal behaviour.

I ask for the manager.

The manager basically tells me the same thing. They had ten copies, sold two, are sending seven back, leaving one in stock. He too questions why I wish to buy two. At the same time, he tries to tell me it clearly is not selling, but even he concedes, odd to return when on offer.

I was even told it was not an international best seller. Simply not true. And yet the manager conceded, Paulo Coelho does sell.

And why do they have Manuscript Found in Accra, catalogued as a health book?

It does not sell. An international best-seller, from an international best-seller, and it does not sell.

Could this be, because complete failure to promote on special offer? Could it be because not on display in the window? Could it be because all that is ever on display is celebrity crap, which they are bribed to display by the publishers, as the only way to sell celebrity crap is through marketing hype and massive discounting?

It then occurs to me, when do they have deliveries? Thursdays. And when do returns go back? Thursday. Therefore, those going back, have not yet gone back? Correct. They are in store? Yes. Therefore, can go and get?. No, system will not allow, once removed from the system, the boxes are now sealed.

But to be fair to the manager, none of this is his fault, it is the imbeciles at head office, his hands are tied, and he does his best to be helpful. Even he, can see the crass stupidity of the system he is forced to operate under.

He checks on the computer. He confirms what I already knew low stocks in stores, Godalming has three, but Guildford has ten.

He tries Godalming. Same problem as Farnborough, removed to return, only one copy on the shelves. Tries, Guildford, yes, still have. He asks, that they reserve for me two copies. He even offers to drive over and pick them up, but I say no, I will go and collect.

WHSmith has on special offer, Manuscript Found in Accra, an international best-seller, from an international best-selling author, fail to have adequate stocks, fail to display, then do not sell many, then send back what stocks they do have, before the offer expires.

You could not make it up if you tried.

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2 Responses to “WHSmith a failing High Street chain”

  1. stephwynnalicebradley Says:

    This is a very good metaphor for the entire western growth system …it doesn’t work, more and more people don’t buy what it sells, and it is on its way to failing completely…THEN we can really get on with the business of living…

  2. keithpp Says:

    If publishers offered indie bookshops the same discounts, the chains would fail overnight.

    It is something writers must insist on. The only condition, the books are put on prominent display.

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