Wandsworth shopowners were shamefaced last night after a major probe exposed a litany of failings in the borough's once thriving retail sector. An exclusive investigation by undercover reporters, commissioned by doughty consumer champion WandsworthEye, identified a host of poor retail practices in outlets along the High Street. These included unattractive window displays, surly and uncommunicative staff, and highly opaque pricing regimes. 'I used to love coming out to do my shopping,' explained pensioner Mabel F. 'But things have definitely gone downhill since the Liberal Democrats got into power. It's just disgusting what some of the shops look like now.'
Filming under conditions of great secrecy, WandsworthEye's squad of roving reporters came across endless examples of shops whose proprietors had evidently given no thought whatsover to aesthetic considerations as they laid out their wares.
Shop windows strewn with rubble and detritus, half-empty and disorganised shelves on which cat food and bathroom tissue jostled for attention next to unsightly cardboard boxes - these were the heartbreaking scenes witnessed on once-booming Wandsworth High Street earlier this week.
'It's all the fault of the Liberal Democrats,' agreed one passer-by. 'Before they got in, the High Street was a veritable shoppers' paradise, with one alluring retail emporium after the other. But now look at it. I mean, for goodness' sake, who buys pink loo roll nowadays?'
Charity shops were also slammed for their failure to offer attractive shopping opportunities in Wandsworth. Time and again our battalion of fearless investigators came across sad displays of overpriced ornamental items with only limited appeal to the sophisticated metropolitan denizens of SW18.
There was also much evidence of the sale of extraneous products in key Wandsworth retail outlets. Trembling as she pointed to one well-known store on the corner of the High Street and Broomhill Road, housewife Valerie B. raged: 'Lamb and cow feet indeed! We'll have none of that medieval fare in these parts, thank you very much.'
Meanwhile, leading national retail giant Tesco came under fire from shoppers for putting ready meals of questionable nutritional value on display. 'Just look at that yucky discoloured bacon,' said Colonel M. of Tunbridge Wells, currently holidaying in the borough. 'Anyone foolish enough to consume that would undoubtedly suffer the severest rectal repercussions.'
WandsworthEye is of course not suggesting for one moment that the items featured in this report are in any way putrid, substandard or of uncertain provenance. Undoubtedly they are both fragrant and utterly pristine in all respects. However, as a celebrated champion of consumer interests in SW18, the Eye pleads with all local retailers to look anew at their products and services, and to do their bit for restoring pride to Wandsworth. Come on shopowners! Get off your mobile phones! Greet your cherished customers with a cheery smile and a cordial word of welcome, and give your tired stores a vigorous sweep and a much-needed lick of paint!