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Image: © Cristiano Betta via Flickr

British shops sold less Christmas stuff than they have for ten years

Shops didn’t sell as much stuff as normal, leading to their lowest sales figures since the financial crisis kicked off in 2008.

What it means: If, like us, your December credit card statement has reduced your January plans to ‘stay in and live off cold beans’ you might find it hard to believe that big retailers are grumbling about how little Brits spent on Christmas this year. But apparently we all splashed out 0.7 percent less than we did for Xmas ‘07. That might not sound like loads, but it adds up to a difference of millions of pounds.

Retailers say that they’re also making less profit because business rates have gone up and because they’re having to invest money into trying to avoid the worst consequences of a no-deal Brexit. They’re worried about whether they’re going to keep making enough money to operate: John Lewis has already said it might pull its staff bonus for 2019.

But why are Brits spending less in shops? Could it be that people have just got fed up with buying stuff? Maybe: criticisms of things like ‘fast fashion’ (buying a lot of cheap, short-lasting clothes) has been in the news a lot lately, and concern for the environmental impact of buying lots of stuff is growing.

But the British Retail Consortium thinks it’s more likely to be “economic uncertainty”, aka that people are worried that they’re about to be hit with a lot of unexpected costs and need to save their cash for that. Tbf, you can’t really blame them: Brexit is looming despite no deal being sorted out. Even the pro-Brexit government thinks that’s going to make us all poorer.

Read our explainer on why we buy stuff.

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Reader Comments

  • RW

    Your right to a degree. You mentioned “the wandering Jew”.

    I elaborate that the Jewish people, historically have tended to migrate almost exclusively to locations that are economically and culturally vibrant already. I would speculate that Jews have thrived in these places and have often improved the bounds of their economies and knowledge base.

    You can also ask; how many massive entertainment conglomerates, Nobel winners or billionaires has Isreal developed? If Jews are so capable, why isn’t Tel Aviv the Rome of our time?

    Jews are successful because they value education, maintain a strong social cohesive, they actively monitor and have a good sense for Zeitgeist wherever they are and they carefully choose the places they settle and congregate themselves heavily in these choice locations.

    But most importantly (haulocaust increased the importance of this aspect), they actually designed their culture for success. They not only attend Harvard, they use what they learned to better the group as a whole. With as much, they studied intricate networking systems, adapted to it and in many cases improved upon them. (See how Japan acquired Aegis warships and made them better).

    Of course there is nothing wrong with any of this. It’s when you elaborately gain disproportionate power in any society where you would stand out, you must take care when attempting to make a society better (Civil Rights movement) and rewriting that society all together (mass immigration). Ask blacks in China, Mexico, Philippines or India how much opportunity they have? Go to businesses owned by their American diaspora and see how many blacks they hire. Go to Silicon Valley and see how many East or South Asian tech workers wish they could work with more black people. California might work as a state, but as a nation, I think your rolling the nuclear dice here. I hope we can succeed as a tolerant pluralistic superpower but at this stage in human societal development, it’s a pipe dream.

    And if Jews really are the icon for success, they would see that fundamental human successes happen over generations. Just look at the rest of the planet? Are we ready?