After all, Jersey Post is States-owned and another States body, Economic Development, has been making a great deal of the idea that people should ‘think twice’ and ‘buy local’.
Quite accurately, traders perceive the Argos mail order service as a threat to Island businesses selling everything from bed linen to children’s toys. It is also fair to say that government departments can be accused of failing to sing from the same hymn sheet. But we have to look at the real-world situation here and put aside thoughts of how, ideally, we should like the world to be.
In promoting the Think Twice, Buy Local campaign, Jersey Enterprise – the arm of Economic Development with executive duties in this area – was not naïve enough to imagine that cost would be not be an issue when Islanders were weighing up whether to make purchases in the high street, online or through a catalogue firm. The implied second line of the campaign’s slogan – which remained unstated for the purposes of brevity and punchiness – was ‘. . . if you can’.
The real-world position of Jersey Post must also be looked at. It, too, is a trader, and one which has a duty to maximise revenues for the benefit of the Island. If it is unable to take decisions on commercial grounds its success – and even its future – will be jeopardised.
In the most practical terms, Jersey Post managers will have understood that had they not accepted the Argos contract, another distributor would have been very quick to snap it up. Had that been allowed to happen, our postal service and the public purse would have lost out and traders would have been no better placed than at present.
It has been said that Think Twice, Buy Local was always intended to be a two-pronged campaign, designed to alter retailers’ practices as well as those of consumers.
To use the slogan ‘adapt or die’ would be unnecessarily harsh. However, traders have no choice but to realise that the landscape in which they operate has changed and will never revert to former conditions.
Service, competitive pricing – rather than equivalent pricing – and that most precious of advantages, the ability to offer the buyer the chance to examine and assess the quality of a real object rather than a mere picture, remain weapons at traders’ disposal.