Amazon is set to offer delivery of customers’ parcels to nearly 5,000 corner shops and newsagents around the UK. The new service, ‘Collect+’, will also offer customers the opportunity to return unwanted items.
As you would expect, this is good news for small local grocers because the service is likely to increase footfall at a time when large retailers such as supermarkets are accused of poaching customers from them.
But it is also indicative of how some of the characteristics of community have changed over the last thirty to forty years. As our research project ‘Community Igniter’ shows, many of us are now much less likely to know our neighbours than people once used to – neighbours whom we would have once felt able to ask to take delivery of our parcels and packages if we were not in to do so.
This change is related to a decline in trust. If many of us don’t know our neighbours, then we are significantly less likely to trust them with our new purchases. Less trust means a further eroding in the cohesion of many local neighbourhoods (especially in large towns and cities), with trust now being more likely to be spread across distance, such as among work colleagues and friends from across town and beyond. But interestingly, Connect+ may help to reintroduce some of the local community and trust for which local retailers and other establishments were once a bedrock.