Friday, 12 December 2008

The Collapse of the Stuff Market.

Well, it was bound to happen in the end. The highstreet stores are now entering into all out price-slashing war. In the battle to sell the most stuff, the now failed Woolworth's and the not so badly off Tesco are firing 50%-off-rockets at eachother. The media are whipping it all up - the Western Mail report 'Sales Chaos Forecast..' , the Daily Express '50% off bargain Britain' , apparently, 'Britain went bargain crazy yesterday''.

Meanwhile, the FT reports that FTSE continues to plummet after the US senate failed to conjure up the big bucks necessary to prop up two motor manufacturers you may have heard of - General Motors and Chrysler, who claim they'll go bankrupt, yes bankrupt if the taxpayer doesn't cough up. Robert Peston thinks UK taxpayers could be coughing up to help Vauxhall, a subsidiary of GM.

There's clearly a human story here too - the Woolworth's workers, the $1 detroit homes nobody wants - nobody likes the fall-out when a business collapses.

I can't help wondering if the reason Woolworth's is struggling, that Tesco is selling discounted Ipod speaker sets and that GM are begging for help, is that between them, they sell alot of stuff that just doesn't fit the future. From the giant GMC trucks doing 12 city miles per gallon, to the low quality electricals that will last only a few years - these products deserve to struggle off the shelves because (during tough times) because they don't really offer relevant value to customers. If they ever did.

If you do have some money to spend this christmas and you're genuinely feeling the pinch why would you buy more usless stuff, when you could invest in your hard earned cash on something that will increase you or somebody else's resilience or efficiency.

So top tips:
100 quid - go to a DIY store, buy insulation (preferably recycled or natural fibre), insulate your loft.
200 quid - go to this DIY store, pay them to do the above, or the same to do your cavity walls (check the eco credentials of their method first).
6 quid - go to Oxfam Unwrapped and Buy school dinners for 100 children or for...
25 quid - buy somebody a goat
1-50 quid - buy yourself or somebody with a garden, a vegetable plot, or seeds, ready for the spring. You can go to any garden centre and many local hardware stores for these.
4-5 quid - a tap flow reducer - there's lots on the market, but here's an example.
3-30 quid - a wind up torch - I have one, I've used it many times and I haven't bought a battery since. E.g. here.
0 - make a gift, throw a party, bake a cake......

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