I've always believed - through years of good service and advice - that the place to buy quality photographic equipment was Jessops.
Today, at their (recently refitted) Cherry Street shop in Birmingham, I realised that they have now basically become a cross between Argos, Dixons and Amazon. It was just as well that I knew what I wanted, because the assistant wouldn't have had anything to say to me on the subject, despite his nice Nikon-branded fleece, his fixed smile and the fact that a black & white portrait of him and his many colleagues was hanging in the shop.
I asked, I was told that the product was cheaper online, I was ushered to a computer where he logged on to the Jessops site and he ordered the piece for me. It arrived. It was what I wanted and it was competitively priced. But it was a world away from previous purchases there, where friendly, knowledgeable assistants advised me advice about investing next in a prime lens, about experimenting one day with RAW and lots of other little snippets which have helped me to take better pictures over the years.
I suppose they don't get that many people wanting that sort of in depth service nowadays. They probably sell mostly automated compacts. But it struck me as another nail in the coffin of the traditional High Street.