IS IT the internet, business rates or car parking charges that is decimating the footfall on the high street? To help you rank these in the right order I offer you a cautionary tale.

I left the Marks and Spencer car park in Kendal (now run by Euro Parks, hence the charge for disabled parking that did not exist before), one minute and 16 seconds later than my parking ticket time allowed.

The result was a fine of £85 - equivalent to a charge of more than £1.10 per second or £4,000 per hour. My thoughts and comments on this I leave you to imagine.

So, when in M & S, by all means linger over your choice of which dress to buy, or perhaps sit for a leisurely cup of tea in the cafeteria while shopping, but don't get caught in a queue at the checkout or you may overstay your welcome in the car park by a minute or so and that will cost you a further £85 on your shopping bill.

As for me, well I'm off to Sainbury's or Asda where the car parking is free, the shopping trips are more leisurely and do not result in an unexpected bill a few day slater.

As the old Latin phrase has it, 'caveat emptor', or 'let the buyer beware'.

Joan Barratt