Shopping Balls

Please bare with us while we work through the unsightly pile of cuttings and old copies of the Post which have built up during our enforced break. The death-trap pile of old papers has made the Post a threat to our physical well-being on top of the normal mental stress it induces.

EP Christmas comes early copy 

What the fuck is it with the Evening Post and shopping? They seem obsessed. Is editor Mike Norton a shopaholic? Or is it some kind of market-researched audience targeting? Or, perhaps it’s something to do with the shopping centres who regularly advertise in the pages of the Post?

Either way, it’s dull and irrelevant. Take this front page from November 21st. That juxtaposition just seems a little, obscene.

Yeah, thousands of local workers are fearing for their jobs. Yeah, thousands have already lost their jobs. But hey, boring; more importantly the shops have got sales on! Christmas comes early! Whoop whoop.

The three pages of regurgitated press releases about the early sales only hint at the very real economic crisis (or ‘downturn’ as the Post euphemistically calls it) which has forced retailers to slash prices and which means that rushing to M&S is the last thing many Bristolians will be doing.

The problem for the Post is, as a local rag, it sees all Bristolians as just Bristolians. And in an economic crisis that becomes increasingly difficult. The Post wants to suggest that queues of middle-class shoppers outside M&S shows some kind of local resilience in the face of the ‘downturn’. They seem to think that when the likes of M&S do well locally it is somehow good for all of us. What they obviously fail to reflect is class.

Bristolians are not all in the same boat. We won’t all suffer equally in this economic crisis. The bosses of M&S, the middle-class shoppers queuing outside and those Rolls Royce workers in fear of redundancy might all be Bristolians, but they don’t all have the same interests.

The Post obviously can’t and won’t openly admit this or pick a side but its awful coverage of the ‘downturn’ increasingly exposes the contradictions that exist in the corporate media.

On page 3 of the same edition, as part of the coverage of the great retail boom, the Post’s business editor tells us that figures from the Office for National EP High street sales defy . . .Statistics show that the high street is defying the “doom merchants”.

To back up this analysis he quotes an M&S spokesperson suggesting that their slashed prices were a philanthropic Christmas gift to struggling consumers. How kind.

So who are those “doom merchants” predicting trouble on the high street?

Well, the previous day the British Retail Consortium which represents high street retailers reacted to the same figures saying,

“Given customers and retailers are being squeezed by a whole range of costs and consumer confidence is at record lows, few retailers are telling me consumers are spending more. The boss of a leading retailer told me things haven’t been this bad since the early 1990s.

“Conditions remain tough and look set to get tougher into the New Year, which can only make customers more nervous about spending. Retailers have reacted to the economic slowdown with wide range discounts and promotions.”

And a week later the BBC reported the bosses organisation, the CBI, on the retail slump,

“UK retailers will face tough trading in the run-up to Christmas after sales volumes fell for the seventh month in a row in October, figures suggest.

Some 27% of retailers reported lower sales volumes than in October 2007, said a distributive trades survey by the Confederation of British Industry.”

Damn those doom mongers. Don’t they know they’ll damage business and ruin the Evening Post’s made-up retail boom with their negative talk.


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