Mrs P and I love a bargain. Who doesn’t? But I think we love a bargain more than most. Neither of us will pay full price for anything of substance before we’ve scoured the internet for discount vouchers. I’ll watch prices for months to get the cheapest flights. She’ll get an extra few pounds off for the slightest of perceived flaws in a new blouse. And the hours we’ll put into the January sales. But don’t start thinking that we’re tight. Or miserly. Thrifty is perhaps a better word. But really, we just like the thrill of the sport.
Our favourite money saving activity is finding the best bargains in supermarkets. Food wastage is ‘frowned upon’ these days. So we will often head to the sections of the fridge where stock of soon to go out of date food has been reduced. Some stores reduce their stock more than others. The best? Marks and Spencer in Bournemouth. The bargains we have had from there over the years. If we’re passing in the evening, we’ll pop in, just to make sure we don’t miss out. It’s not just the savings that’s great. We find stuff that we’d never have otherwise thought to buy. Our thriftiness has widened our culinary horizons.
We’re not the only ones. Packs of bargain hunters will be trailing the person manning the discount trolley, snatching the choicest goodies as soon as the yellow ‘Reduced To Clear’ stickers go on. We are just like a flock of vultures, picking at the left overs. Sometimes squabbling if someone snatches something with a speed that is considered unseemly. There is an an unspoken art of vulturing. An accepted standard of etiquette.
Sadly, Marks and Spencer decided to close the Bournemouth store. Today was the final day. You bet we were there good and early. Everything was half price. The familar faces were there too, armed with trolleys. Today was not about picking tid bits from the side. Today was about devouring the entire carcass. We obliged. We didn’t do so happily though. We like our local M&S. It’s been here since 1930. It will be missed. But the problem for Marks was symbolised by the goodbye message in the windows opposite – see the photo above. Sales and profits went backwards towards the end…
Retail is finding life in the 21st century difficult. This isn’t surprising. The internet has taken a huge bite of the pie. And more recently, Brexit has shrunk the size of the pie. But I’m optimistic for the future of the High Street. There will still be a place for it in the lives of us Brits. It’ll need to be smaller. Some high streets might need to go entirely. What’s the point in shops standing empty when there is a housing shortage? But what’s left needs to be reinvented into a brighter, safer and more entertaining place to go. I have a ton of great ideas. Alas, no one has asked me. Alas, I feel that the majority are still clinging on to the corpse of the 20th century high street, and just won’t let go.