Shopping by surfing not at resort

SEASIDE towns along the Suffolk coast have seen a surge in demand for internet shopping this summer prompting fears for local shops.Wealthy weekenders from London have been ordering groceries online for delivery to holiday homes in the county.

SEASIDE towns along the Suffolk coast have seen a surge in demand for internet shopping this summer prompting fears for local shops.

Wealthy weekenders from London have been ordering groceries online for delivery to holiday homes in the county.

According to internet shopping service Tesco.com, deliveries in Southwold and Aldeburgh – dubbed by Londoners "Chelsea-on-Sea" – have risen by up to 50 per cent since the start of the school holidays.

Londoners have been ordering from up-market addresses in Kensington, Chelsea, Hampstead, Belgravia and the Docklands for delivery to weekend retreats in East Anglia, rather than shopping locally in Suffolk.

Deliveries are made-up in a Lowestoft superstore and dropped at the door by vans.

New technology may well spell the death of local shops, was the message from shopkeepers, councillors and business representatives in East Suffolk.

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Councillor John Richardson, chairman of Suffolk Coastal District Council, said it was no surprise that deliveries had increased in Southwold and Aldeburgh where around a quarter of houses are second or even third homes – many worth more than £500,000.

He added that the council would be 'looking very carefully' at the effect of second homes upon the local economy, adding that he was 'deeply saddened' that visitors were not supporting local shops.

Bob Feltwell, chief executive of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, added that the online shopping trend was a 'sign of the times' but that local shops in Suffolk were able to stand up to the competition.

Greg Sage, Tesco.com spokesman, said: "We provide a very important service to rural communities and to elderly and disabled customers to whom we may be something of a lifeline."

He added that, because of the £5 delivery charge, customers usually placed large orders for heavy or bulky items and were still likely to use their local shops to top up.

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