Grave news for middle England: John Lewis is about to start charging for click-and-collect orders.
The department store's managing director Andy Street revealed the plans – to charge £2 for orders worth less than £30 from the end of July – during last night's Christmas in July preview.
There will be no charge for returns, a spokeswoman confirmed.
John Lewis, which has excelled at its online proposition, has become a victim of its own success. Today the department store deals with more than six million click-and-collect orders a year, compared with 350,000 when it first started offering the option.
Around 18 per cent of the store's ecommerce orders are for baskets totalling less than £30.
Street said: “We are sure customers will understand why we are doing this. There is a huge logistical operation behind this system and quite frankly it’s unsustainable. We consider ourselves to be leaders and we want to take the lead on this.”
According to fashion trade magazine Drapers, Street's announcement came with a reference to Amazon, which yesterday revealed plans to introduce one-hour deliveries in central London.
Customers would understand that companies such as John Lewis, which offered fair prices, looked after their staff, operated attractive stores and “dare I say it, pay their taxes”, could not afford to give permanent free deliveries and returns.