VERITY LUSH: A smile goes further than a needle and thread...

Are department stores a dying breed?

Friday, 22nd June 2018, 7:00 pm
Verity wonders who on earth would spend £300 on a candle at House of Fraser?

We are witnessing the fall of the House of Fraser and the John Lewis Partnership bonus was the lowest it had been in over 60 years.

I’d have imagined that John Lewis would have saved so much cash by refusing to exchange or refund goods easily anymore that they’d have been rolling in it.

My husband and I returned a defunct Le Creuset kettle last year and the salesperson refused to exchange it, trotting off instead to a side room where she proceeded to hammer at the screw that had popped out of the spout herself.

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She eventually admitted defeat and I was begrudgingly offered an exchange – although, disappointingly for her I Imagine, it transpired that West Quay had charged me £11 more for the kettle than the price at which Southsea were flogging it, so I also got the cash back.

I have heard that the clothing department in John Lewis have even taken to sewing and darning on the shop floor.

Admirable attempts to boost flagging sales, but a smile goes further than a needle, and the old maxim of the customer ‘always being right’ – whilst itself being false – does lead to a better shopping experience.

When you are competing against online sales, then you need to present with seriously good customer service skills in person, otherwise, what’s your selling point?

House of Fraser in Chichester was doomed to fail from the off, following their refurb.

The extortionate brands, most of which nobody has heard of in the womenswear department, were simply never going to sell.

If you are going to pay £100 and more for a jumper, you want cashmere, not tat.

And Jo Malone candles are beautiful but fairly niche at £45 for a small one and £300 for the larger sizes. If you’re going to watch your money burn, you at least want it stay alight for longer than a few hours.

But what I don’t get, is that if the average shopper looked at House of Fraser and thought ‘this will never last’, who on earth did they employ to remodel the place?


The entire Trump situation, as well as various other items in the media recently, have led me to question how it is that people manage to kid themselves to such an extent. Or to justify and excuse behaviour that is, frankly, diabolical.

Perhaps we think that other people who are foreigners to ‘us’ simply don’t have the same emotions or feelings?

If you were living a life of pure misery, for whatever reason, or if civil war broke out in the UK, would you not try to escape? To cross a border with your kids and expect kindness on the other side? Not money, or riches, or even healthcare, but kindness?

Or would you feel nothing if your babies were swiped on the border, in a manner dangerously reminiscent of 1939-1945?


A lady called into BBC Radio 2 this week during a Jeremy Vine phone-in about the situation with immigrant children being separated from their parents in America.

Aside from this middle-aged, articulate woman being a fan of Trump (and professing to be his friend), she also proceeded to weep to the point of near hysteria as regards the way in which the press portray him.

I could barely believe my ears. Her voice was getting higher and higher whilst she stated that the children were ‘not being hurt’.

Does this excuse for a human have no concept of ‘hurt’ outside of the physical variety?

Would she have happily had children herself and then gaily agreed to have them placed in a holding unit away from her?

The mind literally boggles.