Rebecca Armstrong: Delivering the fastest, finest and the saltiest treats

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The Independent Online

Since when did we become in thrall to our inner Veruca Salts?

One of the awful brats from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, her anthem in the 1971 film adaptation: "Don't care how, I want it NOW" is a pithy encapsulation of the way many of us want to shop now. How else to explain the rise of services that give us gratification on tap? Clothing store Warehouse (along with its middle-market stablemates Karen Millen, Oasis and Coast) has just rolled out a 90-minute delivery service in 11 UK-wide locations after a five-month pilot in London. This impressively fast journey from website to depot to doorstep would be just the (golden) ticket for Ms Salt, were she desperate to get her paws on a party frock by teatime without leaving home. Next has offered next-morning delivery on togs bought online for a while now, as has Net-a-porter – provided you live in central London and have the readies to pay top dollar for designer garb and up to £19.50 to have it wrapped and despatched. Firebox also offers a same-day service for anyone who lives in the M25 area, for those moments when only a child-sized gummy bear or a camper van-shaped tent by 4pm will suffice.

Last week also saw the launch – sadly only in New York so far, but I'm thinking of lobbying for a British version – of a vending machine that spits out a freshly rolled, sauced and baked pizza in 90 seconds. Fast, fresh(ish) food at the touch of the button, which is discharged with a throw-away pizza cutter and napkin. The 30-minute waiting time for a Domino's delivery suddenly seems positively glacial.

And if you've missed last orders at the bar or the off licence (and need something to wash down your 90-second American Hot), then why not call one of the myriad "dial-a-booze" companies that will pop round with an after-hours bottle in double-quick time? There are Facebook pages galore dedicated to these local enterprises, although those in Scotland are getting unwelcome attention from councils keen to stop them flouting licensing laws. Dial-a-booze (along with websites such as the charmingly named Boozeboys.co.uk) means customers can be as disorganised – or, looked at with a more positive slant – as spontaneous as they like, without planning ahead. It's the same with the other quick-hit services. If you want it and you can afford it, you got it – in record time. And where clothes, food and alcohol lead, the rest of retail will surely follow, although it may be a while before Veruca Salt's other wants – "a golden goose!" "a TRAINED squirrel" will be on the back of a courier's bike before you can say "now".

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