Enticing new Christmas custom is a piece of cake
Let them eat cake, Marie Antoinette declared, according to popular myth.
Now department store John Lewis is clamping down on the complimentary cake made available to members of its rewards programme, My John Lewis.
The marvellously inventive loyalty scheme gives shoppers tailored awards, such as a free weekend newspaper in its sister Waitrose supermarkets, invites to 'exclusive' events and, best of all for those afflicted with a sweet tooth, free tea and cake in John Lewis restaurants every month.
Given the somewhat prosaic nature of reward schemes down the years, from free glasses with petrol station Esso in the 1980s to extra points on contact lens solutions and nappies, it's nice to see a pleasurable item being thrown in to keep customers satisfied.
But the British firm is now implying there's not enough lemon drizzle and Battenberg to go round. It has said that the rewards programme is still evolving, and it will cut back the number of hot drink and cake vouchers which it sends out in the run-up to Christmas.
Ostensibly, it's to ensure that customers can all get decent standards of service in the cafes during the Christmas rush.
John Lewis said in a statement: "As we approach our busy Christmas period, we will be reducing the number of hot drink and cake vouchers issued to customers as our cafes and restaurants become extremely busy during this time and we want to make sure our customers experience the high standards of service they expect from us.
"All My John Lewis member rewards are continually reviewed and the rewards our members receive in future do depend on a variety of factors."
The retailer said they will be looking into new types of rewards in the future.
But for those who relished the idea of a free slice of cake during Christmas shopping, it will come as a blow.
Of course, John Lewis does not have a presence in Northern Ireland, so we're not really missing it that much.
So if any Northern Ireland independent retailers want to beat John Lewis at its own game, some cake wouldn't go amiss.