I was contacted recently to participate in a survey on Brits living abroad and their opinions on what it is they miss most. It was being organised for M&S.
Us Brits in Montpellier had been hoping that M&S would open up a shop in the Polygone shopping centre, or further out, towards Ikea where a number of shops are opening up huge stores, like Decathlon. The rumour circulated for some time, but then there was one of those shareholder caca nerveux along with slumping sales due to undesirable products, and M&S started pulling out of all their overseas locations, including Paris.
Naturally, all rumours about them setting up in Montpellier ground to a halt and we were all gutted at the idea that we wouldn't be able to get our hands on some good ol' British bangers after all.
Today, we live in an electronic age, and it has come to the rescue of anyone unable to drag themselves to a physical shop. M&S has opened itself to the world by setting up an online delivery service.
However, because they are dedicated to not making a hash of things (again), they have posted a survey to find out what products are most missed, and what expats would buy online with a delivery charge of £10 for France. Of course, it's not worth buying a packet of tea and a pair of socks, but you could always join forces with other deprived expats and get a nice big box full of M&S goodies.
If you'd like to take the survey, click here until April 30, and you could win a £250 gift card.
You can browse what's available online or catch a bargain from their 'Deal of the Day'. I used to buy undies at M&S, then they changed their sizes to 36-38, 40-42 and so on, and as I was a 38 but the 36-38 came up small, I had to stop buying their stuff. Now they've gone back to individual sizes which is much better, as long as the sizing doesn't reflect too heavily the generally larger nature of the nation's inhabitants...
What I miss not being able to get my hands on here is malt-loaf, sherry and Yorkshire Tea. And sausages, but they won't be able to send those anyway. Or fresh cream. On the other hand, I've made do now for so long, interspersed with bi-annual visits to Blighty to stock up on essentials, that I'm not sure I'll make much use of this new service.
I can think of a couple of things I'd get, such as bath towels which are really good value (although there's one that drops lint like mad apparently, according to the customer reports), but frankly I'd prefer to be able to walk into a shop and browse, or go there specifically to buy something special. Delivery time is 6-9 days to France. That's quite a wait. For the moment, food is not for sale online hence the survey, so get clicking and let's ensure that if we are dying for a slice of malt-loaf, as long as we can wait a week, we will be able to get our teeth around it's lovely sticky fruitiness thanks to the online M&S fooderie. Come on, take an interest, take the survey.