According to Britain's communications watchdog, Ofcom, the British spend three times as much online as their European counterparts and make on average 19 internet purchases every six months. It seems we are following the tradition of catalogue selling, although I remember that catalogues from companies such as Littlewoods traditionally majored on easy payments and tended to be aimed at the poorer sectors of society. The motivation was always the easy credit rather than the convenience. It was different in the USA where remote communities have traditionally bought by mail order because, in many cases, it was the only way to get the choice.
Waiting at home for deliveries has always been the big snag with on-line or catalogue ordering in this country. While friends in the USA routinely find packages left on their doorstep when they return home, courier companies in the UK would be foolish to do that here. Even a bottle of milk is in great peril, never mind a Kindle or iPod touch.
What annoys me, though, is the slavish refusal of courier companies to offer a self-collection service until they've made at least one fruitless attempt at delivery. Apple and UPS are among the biggest culprits here. Not only do they insist on trying to delivery, but packages are whipped back to the sender in double quick time if you are not available to call or make delivery arrangements.
There would be a good demand for a collection point in most towns where parcels could be delivered for later collection by the addressee. I'd even pay a small premium for this service because, in the long run, it would work out cheaper than getting in the car and driving to some godsforsaken industrial estate in the hinterland of Heathrow airport. I breathe a sigh of relief when something is delivered by Royal Mail because, at least, I know that there's a handy place to collect from – the local sorting office.