Saturday, 20 June 2020

A nation of shopkeepers

SUNDAY 21st JUNE 2020
Napoleon supposedly said that Britain was a nation of shopkeepers. In the late 1960's working as a management trainee in a giant Birmingham City Centre department store I thought he was right. I wonder what Napoleon would think about today's shopping with giant centres and on-line shopping with the likes of Amazon.

As the government uses you and I as pawns in its game, a further 128 people died yesterday, do not be fooled by official reductions in social distancing and the general attitude of the shopping public which considers social distancing to be optional. May I suggest we need to:
  • Shop locally
  • Shop on-line
  • Think twice before patronising a charity shop

The demise of the High Street would have made Napoleon think the fabric of British society was falling apart. The department store in which I worked had eight trading floors and employed two thousand people. I has long disappeared along with eight other stores in the chain although its London branch, Selfridges, remains to this day.  When I was still at school I had a Saturday job in a local hardware shop where profit margins were 30%. In that department store profits were 60%.  Which gave the better value ?

As we "emerge" from this pandemic I would urge you to shop locally. Avoid the carbon footprint of The Centre MK and The Intu. Use your local High Street and where you can privately owned shops.

Why can we not survive without Costa ?  What commercial addiction has drawn us to the brand. Reduce the mass slaughter of animals and the subsequent global warming of the likes of McDonald's and KFC. KFC = Kill Frightened Chickens. 

Do not patronise the covered open market of Central Milton Keynes. Prior to lock down I wrote to both Milton Keynes Council and the management of The Centre MK alerting them to the fact that some traders were knowingly receiving stolen goods and some traders were operating as illegal loan sharks. They were doing so as part of the Central Milton Keynes drug trade !  Neither Milton Keynes Council nor The Centre MK responded to my letters !

Shop on-line. As I opened my laptop this morning I found an e-mail from Amazon telling me how much royalties I am about to be paid for sales of my books. Please note that Amazon will only accept an author within its library who file tax details. Pity Amazon is not so observant of its own tax position. That said, shopping on-line is so easy. No matter what you want you can find it, not so in the shops of The Centre MK or the infernal Intu ! You will get a far better price than in a traditional shop, you will get a far better level of customer service.

I need a little bit of DIY stuff. I am not going to go to B & Q - The Everything and Nothing Store - Everything you need and nothing you can find store. The store where you need a sat nav to find you way around. I will buy on-line. I needed some ink cartridges but The Empty Shelf Supermarket did not have any !  Ordered them on-line and paid the same price as in the supermarket, ordered one day with delivery the next.

Now a cautionary tale about charity shops. If you see something you need, something you want then by all means get it BUT DO NOT FOR ONE MOMENT BUY ANYTHING TO SUPPORT THE CHARITY. Commercial charities with their vast chains of shops are businesses, commercial = business. In some such shops the money you spend which finally benefits the people the charity claims to work with can be as little as 19p !

So Napoleon what do you make of all this ?  If Josephine wanted a box of hair dye would you go to The Centre MK, pay £2 to park only to find it was out of stock or would you buy on-line for next day delivery ?

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