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Retail, right now, must be terrified.

With every item that is ‘added to basket’ online, another high-street store loses out. The clever kids got online long ago and their stores are more like 3d brochures. But there are still some that rely heavily on daytime shoppers with spare cash. Bad business model. Go into a provincial market town mid-afternoon. Show me one person with spare time and cash going anywhere except the off-license. Depressing, but true.

So I find today’s twitter storm about Gasp strangely reassuring. A shop assistant was rude to a customer. After she had been rude about the designs. Okay, so their clothing and heritage may not match up with the arrogance displayed in their email and by their staff. But they, like many of the ‘distractions’ between town-centre coffee shops, are at a crossroads. Their old comfort zone is dying. The casual browser looking for a £50 dress at 3pm just doesn’t exist. So I commend them on trying to separate themselves from the rest of the retail dinosaurs that are gasping for oxygen. You don’t like our clothes? Piss off and shop somewhere else.

That statement not only stops timewasters and badmouthers in store, but it marks you out as confident, mildly rebellious, and the kind of shop that a good many people could be attracted to. The opposite would turn you into the naive Burberry of 5 years ago. A warm welcome to all shoppers, forgetting that broad appeal kills your credibility and ultimately your sales.

So congratulations to Gasp for being rude. You will now have people who love your brand and certainly those who hate it. Far better than the majority of brands where customers can ‘take it or leave it’. Faced with vanilla blanding and fake smiles,those with strong opinions and strong bank balances have a tendency to leave it.

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