Sir; During my daily visit to the Co-op Welcome store in Northampton on Monday of this week, I was astonished to find on its first gondola end a bulk feature of Christmas crackers. I agree, as a retail assistant store manager, that it is prudent to introduce early Christmas ranges to sow the seed and also spread the massive workload that shops have in the run up to the peak festive trading period However, to display Christmas crackers on a prime gondola end is detrimental to the store and to any business respect gained from the customer. To finish, while queuing to pay for my goods, the customer in front commented: "The only people to buy Christmas stuff at this time of the year are those after a discounted bargain." The assistant replied: "I agree with you. The boss thinks that he will get ahead of his competitors." I don't think so! Perhaps he should visit the high street for ideas. They, too, are introducing early Christmas ranges, but doing so logically, in secondary positions, and are concentrating on clearing their summer/garden ranges at sale prices. Stephen Howsam By e-mail {{LETTERS }}

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