It’s essential – the throng’s the thing

Tuesday 16th June 2020

Yesterday, Magic Monday, was when ‘non-essential’ shopping was allowed to restart. Shopping for ‘non- essentials’ caused some queues . But there was no real return to the ‘retail therapy’ days of nipping into a few stores, trying a few things on and then having a coffee and a gossip and then maybe wandering back, trying the same or similar things on again and the buying them or maybe not. Within the shopping bags is also this dull number – shops pay £17.5 billion per year in tax , 9% of the UK total, of the four largest takes , which are VAT, business rates, national insurance and income tax. There is no ‘non-essential’ in shopping.

I’m not a great shopper – like most men I know what I’m going to do, I get the thing and then pay for it.

But the retail experience, the therapy of trying on, and all the other ritual is completely ‘essential’. I’m sure some dull number crunchers in Whitehall still stick to the ‘essentials’ list for their frequently flawed and over-generalised inflation or economy progress stats – but if you want to feel the mood of a nation, the ‘essential’ indicator is the throng – the apparently aimless tide of window shopping and occasional buying, which keeps the shops keeping staff and, yes, keeps the sweatshops in China or Bangladesh and all that implies..but that is, whether you like it or not, our ‘essential’.

Built on profit  –  pile ‘em high and sell ‘em cheap. That’s the way we are, now. If you don’t like it, then don’t shop. Watch the produce , of course , because it may have been sourced in countries you don’t like, but always bear in mind that  shopping maybe appear mindless, but it’s all “essential”.


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