I'll admit to being an amazon fan. Prices are good and service excellent - I once had to return an electrical item that wasn't right and they were great. The wonderful thing is if they have it on the site, it's in stock. As to the 15p split pin, that's what ebay is for. Anything you want through the post in a couple of days.
I've just been to Reliable Fire Protection Services in Leigh because I needed specialist advice and help on the options for new fire extinguishers - and that's what I got. (No connections - I got their name off this forum!) But most retail outlets are staffed by sales staff who are rarely experts so they can't really offer advice.
Retailing is changing. Agreed it's good to pop into the Chadlers for what you want here and now and I do. But the high street is going to lose even more custom to the internet - amazon and ebay are a powerful combination.