You wouldn’t invent WH Smith as a store now, says John Pal, senior lecturer in retail at the University of Manchester. It has evolved over time into a business that relies on its location and convenience. Going to his local branch, says Pal, is “not a particularly pleasant experience but it serves a purpose”. You can pick up a magazine, a printer refill, a lottery ticket. “If it starts to refit and invest a lot of money, the only way that will be paid for is through increased prices. Onlookers might look down their nose and say it’s a bit soulless, but it has become a convenience store and it capitalises on that high footfall traffic.” Maybe get some new carpets, though.