Some things too precious to be wiped out by tech

In this life there are two types of people: those who use self checkouts and those who don't.

Wednesday, 9th March 2016, 7:17 am
Updated Friday, 11th March 2016, 2:16 pm

It is a very clear division and not one which can be explained away on the grounds of age, social demographic or whether or not you have watched every single episode of Breaking Bad – in one go.

Some shoppers want to grab their avocados and Sugar Puffs and get the hell out of Dodge, preferably without having to pass the time of day with the cashier with the nervous tick.

These folk are modern day pragmatists, the ones who choose coffee shops by how good their wi-fi is as opposed to the taste of their brew. Personally, I sit with, what I suspect is still, a sizeable majority who are not fussed by technology and really don’t like being told by a computer, which sounds like a bored librarian, that there is an item outside of the bagging area.

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But it is unfair to dismiss us all as Luddites just because we prefer to do things much the way we always have.

It is because of ‘old fashioned’ people like me that I am dubious whether this nation of shopkeepers will necessarily lose the best part of 1m retail workers in the next decade.

Of course I have been wrong before: only a month ago I would have put money on Tony Blackburn getting a knighthood and that I would still be eating frozen crispy pancakes well into my retirement.

If nothing else I live in hope that the warning there will be 900,000 fewer shop workers in 2025 than now has been exaggerated to make both the powers-that-be and the man in the street sit up and take notice.

Even I must concede technology has enriched our lives and will continue to do so but there are many things too precious to be wiped out forever in the name of progress, including the independent trader, the quality retailer and, while I’m at it, the good old traditional newspaper.

Of course, all of the above can be enhanced and aided by science but do we really want to explain to our grandchildren what supermarkets used to be for or that people used to try on eight pairs of jeans in a tiny cubicle before deciding which ones to buy?