Tis The Season To Be Jolly! Well, you could be fooled. Walk along your local High Street, amid a sea of faces with worried scowls, and shop keepers, who look distinctly depressed. That’s those, whose businesses haven’t already shut up shop and are now particularly un-festive, darkened by rain blackened sheets of warped plywood.
It seems that shopping is so-last-year, no one’s in the mood. Have we finally reached ‘peak-stuff’? If so, good! It’s time for us all to get with the programme and stop using shopping as a form of leisure and entertainment.
Of course, local shops are not going to like that one little bit, but change happens and we all need to change with it. In these Internet times, High Street shops need to keep prices low and costs lower. This means that local Councils need to start charging business rates according to how much profit a business makes, not according to some ‘pick-a-number’ arbitrary scale. Likewise, cash rich landlords must be limited, by law if necessary, to keep commercial rent rises in line with inflation, not choking retailers to death.
Shopkeepers also need to up their game and start offering activities that require our physical presence, rather than stuff we can get cheaper at the click of a mouse. Hairdressers, nail bars and cafes are obviously already there and full of customers. Other retailers need to follow suit. Food shops, start offering cookery courses; gadget shops, why not teach repair skills; book shops, organise book groups; clothes shops, teach us how to sew.
And why not strip off those rotting plywood panels and hand over empty premises to a few youth centres, local councils? Goodness knows, we could do with some of those.
As for the rest of us, this Christmas, let’s think before we buy. Instead of a pile of toys that fascinates for about four and a half minutes, buy the kids a toy everyone can share, a board game, a jigsaw, a deck of cards, and teach them how to play Poker (or learn how to, yourself). Don’t just fork out for a video game that isolates them in their bedroom, alone. Spend some time with them instead.
Get others an outing that matches their interest, whether it’s a slap-up meal or an afternoon at the London Dungeon. You can even pick some of all that stuff you’ve piled up over the years, wrap it up and stick it under the tree. They’ll love it!
In the process, you will have reduced your carbon footprint significantly. If you want to go that extra mile, add a packet of vegetarian sausages to your festive fayre, and start weaning the family off dead birds. Works wonders.