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Why are giant vending machines replacing village shops?

An enormous vending machine selling more than 80 items has replaced the long-gone village shop in the Bristol suburb of Clifton.

The “SpeedyShop” is based in the car park of Clifton's local pub, the Cock Inn. It has been gratefully welcomed by residents, who haven’t had a village shop for more than a decade. The vending machine  sells a range of goods including cereal, fresh milk and eggs, umbrellas, cat food, washing powder and shampoo and dozens of other necessities.

The vending machine is designed to look like a quaint village shop, yet with the advantage of more reliable opening hours. It is intended to lead a quiet, mechanised revolution in rural areas across Britain, filling the gap left by the widespread closure of traditional stores.

Vending machine satisfies unmet need

Dubbed the UK’s first automated shop, the bus shelter-sized vending machine is the brainchild of Peter Fox, a 50-year-old electrical engineer who used to live in a small village and became frustrated at coming home late from work to find nothing in the fridge.

Having spent more than two years designing the prototype, Fox now hopes that similar machines can be rolled out nationally. Accepting cash or credit cards, the machine emails Fox whenever it dispenses an item, so he can keep track of stock levels. Fox says he doesn’t have the resources to expand as quickly as he would like and is now actively seeking a business partner.

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