Christmas shopping: thinking local

We’re well into December now and it’s time to crack on with the rest of my Christmas shopping. Normally I try to do as much as possible ahead of the festive season in sales throughout the year. But there have been a lot of distractions this year, plus nobody seems to know what they want and as a result I’ve only managed to get half the items I need ahead of time.

Unsurprisingly, our local shops have been finding trading very tough in the recession. Many of them make around 40 per cent of their year’s takings during the Christmas period and have told local newspaper reporters that Christmas 2009 could be make or break time for their businesses. If residents don’t spend their money on our high street this festive season, more shops could be forced to close. We’ve already lost Woolworths and two other local outlets, so it would be very sad to see other businesses go the same way.

One of the great things which marks out our town is our beautiful high street with its many independent stores and old Tudor buildings. It really distinguishes it from neighbouring towns and villages and makes many people want to live here because there is a real villagey feel to it. But if we don’t put our money where our mouths are, we could easily wind up with more empty premises and a ghost town on our hands.

My conscience has been pricked a bit – some of these outlets that closed I know I rarely shopped in – so I’ve decided this year to try to do as much of my present and food shopping as possible in our local shops. I think it’s important to try to support them. Obviously we only have a small selection of outlets, so it’s not possible to buy everything from our town stores, but I’ll be doing my best.

I’ve been thinking that instead of doing all my seasonal food shopping in the supermarket chains, I will try to buy from our local butcher and green grocers for a change. Luckily I’ve seen that one of the butchers is advertising fresh free range duck, partridge and pheasant, which is great because DJ and I were considering having duck for a change instead of turkey this year.

The question is, will it be value for money? For the frugal bargain hunter, there’s the suspicion that buying locally could be more expensive than purchasing items from the high street chains or over the internet. But is it? I’ll be interested to see over the next week how much of my Christmas shopping I can keep local and how the prices compare with those elsewhere.

Do you shop locally? Do you find it more or less expensive than buying on the internet or from chain stores? Leave a message and let me know.

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15 Responses to Christmas shopping: thinking local

  1. Bill says:

    I suspect that so many more will be suffering the pinch this year than last year, when shop turnover was well down. I find it amazing that so many will go into such horrendous debt, simply to celebrate with the gimendous spread & booze, which has long since become tradition. In the first half of the previous century, our grand-, & great-grand-parents, had it equally tough, but they did not blindly charge into horrendous debt in the same fashion.They found other means of celebrating the Xmas spirit, & keeping warm, even through two World Wars, mostly by "make do & mend", as also by consolidation, shoulder to shoulder, a strong case of "pooling resources". The resultant team/familly discipline possibly assisted in reinforcing self-discipline.Sadly, this community spirit is no longer possible in the modern world of capitalist consumerism.They did not have anywhere near the same credit resources (rip-off) available, that is there for the taking today. DFS are a prime example. They offer so many years "interest free", with nout to pay for at least a year. An obvious con. You only need to shop around to find a far better deal, even moreso when the small local "owner/driver" have their own backs so hard against the wall. Obviously, such people do not offer such generous terms, but much prefer ready cash, oft at an even better spot discount. This is almost a case of "cash-in-hand".This year, even DFS have brought their January sales forward, possibly out of fear, that their will be no cash, or even courage left, after the annual Xmas splurge. How much of last years January sales, have they already been forced to repossess?Are they, themselves, now victims of the live now, pay later, which they have been joyfully promoting for so many years?This would obviously impact on their insurance premium.My own local butcher guarantees to have fresh English pork liver available on Tuesday, with twice the iron content of lambs liver, & @ only half the price. By Friday & Saturday, I am too late for pigs liver, but he "donates" me clean fresh English lambs liver at half price. It saves him storage over the weekend. Very few buy offal, & therefore it can easilly become a financial embarrassment to any small local butcher. The large supermarkets do not have the same technical/financial problems, therefore it is not possible to negotiate with them. Sadly, their backs are not yet against the wall.If there is only crap on tv again this bank holiday, I may be out before the crack o\’dawn for a long quiet leg stretch o\’er the hills before the drinkers & smokers take to the roads. I will be back for lunch, long before they even finish their over oppulent breakfast. I will then check me email, before me afternoon siesta, possibly staying under the duvet until the following breakfast.I will enjoy all my meals alone, in peace & quiet, & even wash me own pots, just as any other day. With the civil service down for at least a month, it can not be business as usual. But I have not celebrated Xmas since 1970, & have even less interest with the passage of time, & receding years. I have not had a home since 1965, & have not eaten with any relatives since then. A home becomes increasing less possible, as a mortgage/loan is not possible for any one on Benefit, & I have no hope of any legal employment, let alone the minimum 2 years unbroken employment required to apply for a mortgage. If I do go shopping for Xmas, then maybe a repo caravan, & a 15-20kw 220v generator, in order to leave me council, 10th floor cave. I could easilly live on a storm tossed beach, at least for the winter. It would at least be an option, council tax & rent free. Even the home-made \’leccy would be much cheaper, as also healthier, than any other. Even £20/wk ground rent could possibly be worked off, in just a few hrs/wk., strictly "cash-in-hand", thereby saving almost 50%.Midwinter is traditionally the best time to buy a used caravan, much better choice, & much lower price. Repos are oft much younger, & possibly "fitter". I have no other hope of a legal, warm, dry home, & it would certainly be a better gamble than the Jackpot, or even worse, a legal employment application. I am not workshy, but have not been allowed any form of legal employment for the past 10 years, since 19/12/1999. Yes, it will be the centenary next week, & no sign of the police state backing down anytime this century. I am already in the midst of my next appeal, but it is just a very boring case of going through the motions.As long as they have a guaranteed life income, & pension, at taxpayer\’s expence, nothing will improve.If only there was still yet some community spirit left.

  2. Christine says:

    I question the whole ethos and ethics of giftmas personally. The season has become a festival of shopping and partying with no particular meaning for most of the population. Most of us need to examine our list of people to receive presents as many of them would probably be quite happy to stop the exchange because they have forgotten why it all started. A card, letter and/or telephone call might be just as much appreciated as a sudden parcel containing something we might not appreciate from the postman. The endless round of eating Christmas lunches at work and in our social groups also quite takes away the fun of a nice meal on the day itself. Time has come to question the season and whether most of us actually enjoy it. As for supporting our local shops – hmm the manaul kitchen scales I purchased locally were one third cheaper from the Argos website but the customer reviews there suggest that the extra money spent was worth it in the quality that I obtained for a higher price. You pays your money and you takes your chance. On the food side, there are times when you can\’t buy what you want from the supermarkets as they only cater for items that will sell in bulk. And they are not very good if you are vegan, vegetarian or allergic to some food products – though there are signs of improvement as they have discovered that every penny counts. As for the shopping frenzy, I had reason yesterday to be in the Metro Centre in Gateshead (the UK\’s biggest shopping centre it used to claim) and it was very quiet – one of the cleaners who has been there years said that even last Saturday had been quiet not taking into account that it was in the run up to Christmas (now the cleaners emptying the rubbish bins and cleaning the loos will know). It sounds like a quiet shopping season and with VAT going back up in time for the sales – well expect the prices to rise in January then. So if you can find the cash to do major purchases – do it now. The stock is there and there will be offers to clear the shelves between now and December 31st. And nope – the clothes shopping facility in our small town high street is nil for underwear and despite being a teenager of the 1960s I do wear it she says laughing.

  3. piper says:

    I couldn\’t agree more. I think a lot of us have forgotten why we run around like headless chickens spending all this cash and why is there really a need for it at all? Half the time the presents we get from people or give to others are bought in haste and completely without any thought to them.

  4. Unknown says:

    I quite agree too. I absolutely hate all the commercialism of Christmas, which seems to start earlier than ever each year. As soon as the schools go back after the summer holidays, the shops start filling up with Christmas stuff. TV ads for Christmas start at the end of September, or even earlier. The real spirit of Christmas disappeared years ago, and it\’s now all about making money. Many people buy presents now because it is expected of them, rather than because they really want to. I don\’t mean family or close friends of course, but what about all those work colleagues and childrens\’ school friends that you don\’t even really know? We are constantly bombarded with advertising saying that "it\’s what Christmas is all about", in order to get us to buy something for someone we hardly know, who probably neither really wants or needs it anyway.I think the supermarkets, with their superior buying power and huge advertising budgets have killed the high streets. I would much prefer to buy all my needs in high street shops and particularly those that are not part of a chain, but being on a low income this simply isn\’t possible. Incomes at the bottom end of the scale have fallen dramatically over the past 30 years or so, and this is largely due to the ability to buy cheap food from supermarkets, and cheap (junk) goods from abroad. Whatever happened to the old "buy British, because British is best" mentality? If wages at the lower end had really kept pace with the cost of living, nobody would buy cheap foreign goods or shop in impersonal supermarkets. We would still have a manufacturing base in this country, and it would still be the envy of the world as it once was. If only we hadn\’t decided to go down the low-wage, cheap goods route.

  5. arthur says:

    i do 95% of my shopping locally, with the cost of fuel the extra penny you might pay it still works out cheaper, if we don\’t shop locally one day we will have to travel 20 miles just to buy a loafe of bread!!.

  6. Paul says:

    why bother, i get my traffic tickets in my local shopping area on sunday afternoon 3:30. just bought few things end up the parking fee more than i bought. most of the kids running around without care any other. I will go further to the supermarket now. they get free car park & no problem. if local council do not encourage local resident to shop local (eg car park, business rates, local shopping scheme or control teen age etc.) rather than give the supermarket. why did we bother.

  7. caroline says:

    My vicar told me that it was saint nic who posted presents through peoples doors. Then someone commericalised saint NIC

  8. piper says:

    Parking is a huge issue. Our council recently made one of our local car parks free at the weekends to encourage people to shop locally but there aren\’t many parking spaces generally. Our supermarket actually charges you to park unless you spend £5 instore. I try to walk into town whenever I can because I need the exercise but obviously in that case you can only carry a few items.

  9. Bill says:

    piper,You could carry the entire weekly shop in a 35kilo/60litre gov surplus rucksack. At a brisk walk, fantastic excersise. Or you could try a large dog-cart, fastened to yer belt, with a small jockey wheel at the front. In Germany they use bicycles, with large side-cars, or trailers.Guaranteed, the parking wardens will be out in full force over the bank holidays, 5, or even 6 days @ double time ! ! !Hope they freeze to death.

  10. piper says:

    Hello Bill! We were tempted a couple of years ago to get a Bernese mountain dog which would have been happy pulling a cart along, but decided we had too many pets already. Would love to see a parking warden pin a ticket on a dog!

  11. Bill says:

    Hi piper!Collies sould be the best for collecting tickets, especially the bitches, they just love fellas in uniform, rare, or lightly grilled, with any form of spuds, sweet young carrots, minted peas, & oodles of natural gravy!

  12. Marie Jacinta says:

    I am severely disabled, I live on my own and the place where I live I don\’t know anyone. Where I lived before I had a full care package, carers coming in twice a day to prepare my meals and do some tidying, then they would allocate me 2 hrs a week to concentrate on say my bathroom or lounge to give it a good going through. I also was allocated a 2 hour slot for shopping whereas my carer would take me out to the supermarket and I would use one of the shops scooters to get around. I also had my own Social Worker, my own Outreach Worker who helped with bills/debts etc and a Counsellor who would help me come to terms with my condition, they all visited me once a week. But then I had to move because my ex husband had found where I was living and it was deemed too unsafe for me to carry on living there – I loved my home and the neighbours in my former home were very friendly and would help me at times too. However I was re assured by my social worker not to worry about anything because it would just be a matter of her faxing my file across to the Social Services in the area where I am now living. My counsellor Karen also said to me when I sign on with my new GP I was to emphasise the importance of this sort of counselling being carried on as it was imperative to my long term health. BUT! When my furniture etc was delivered to this house, it was dumped here any old way despite my former carers labelling each box to say which room it should be in, but these young delivery men were so callous and even dropped a box braking some of my precious ornaments. I slept on my floor for approximately 3 months because I wasn\’t able to put my bed together. I ended up in hospital for 2 weeks with the stress. I must of rang every department within Social Services but no one wanted to know, I was being knocked from pillar to post. IAll I got told was I was not known to them and they could npt find any file on me. In the end I hired a man from the local nwspaper who came out and put my bed together and connected my TV, Cooker and Refrigerator, later I paid a man to decorate my home. I had many problems during that time one being my walk in shower, because everytime I took a shower the water would escape under the door into my hall and I would be walking in floods of which wasn\’t doing my new flooring any good. That took over 7 months to correct by my hsg Assoc. It got to the point where I stopped having a shower as it hurt too much to clean up after and get rid of the masses of excess water. I repeatedly asked my new GP for this CBT counselling, I repeatedly rang Social Services and it seemed no one cared. It has been 3 1/2 years of my living here npw and I have had to endure hostility from my alcholic neighbours throwing excrement onto my garden path – probably in the hope I would slip on it, also them constantly swearing at me, also when I do venture to the little shop across the road and should they be outside talking would give me looks to kill and once away from them I would hear raws of laughter. I never and still wont rise to their bait. The lady in the little shop across the road has told me it\’s probably because they wanted your home for one of their own family members and with you not coming from the area – well! I can\’t believe I am being bullied by my neighbours for being an outsider! I still have no carers, I still have not received any CBT counselling some 3 1/2 yrs on and all I want to say is I think it is disgusting the way the system has let me down, I am alone 24/7 I never have any callers, I have been forced this isolation because the system doesn\’t want to know and yet I am on the highest DLA payment on both modules I thought surely that is indicitive of how bad my health is? But not to Social Services, and yes I have written tirelessly to my local MP, one quite recently to his parliamentary E-mail address, but even he has not had the decency to acknowledge my E-mail sent on 5th Dec, No one cares anymore! I am all alone and I have to admit I feel sometimes I am losing the fight because every year I manage to get my Christmas tree up, but this year I haven\’t , it\’s supposed to be the season of goodwill and the weather as we all know is atrocious out there, I can\’t even cross my road to my little shop and no one offers either to help me by going for me. Merry Christmas to anyone who has read this article, I am not feeling sorry for myself, my only crime was I have been too soft in staying in a relationship with my husband who became violent and it was he who made me disabled. Now I don\’t have anyone – but heh! I am still breathing! So if you do read this article I would love you to respond with a festive greeting which will restore my faith in my fellow man. thank you.

  13. Bill says:

    Marie J. C., . . . I hope that you are still yet on here, & that you will read this. I am extremely sorry that I did not see your post in time for Xmas, but I am also alone, & came to the conclusion that everyone else on here had "closed down" for Xmas. But I am her now, & would like to help, if I only knew how.First, I believe every word you have written, second, it is quite possible that I would not have been so polite as you, back then, as I am "a mon". After 15 years of it, I have had time to "retrain" from a top notch Master Transport & Vehicle Technician, to an equally good self-taught, DIY lawyer, with almost adequate manners. Despite this, the civil service, as also the justice system, still love to take the P . . at every possible opportunity. I will never be one of them, I will never again have a home, just a concrete cave in a high rise council, complete with drinkers, chain smokers & other junkies. Some are young enough to be my children, others old enough to be my parents. Some have simply been here too long, & have been ground down, to a point where they have lost interest, & have simply given up on life. Hopefully, I will never give up the fight, but I do admit, that some days are extremely hard. Some days I even contemplate purchase of a cheap 2nd hand caravan or boat, in order to disappear without trace. That is also not so simple, as at 60 next month, I would need some form of "anonymous" income, "Freelance" or "cash-in-hand", as I would lose all form of Benefit.One thing is certain, I will never wear a suit, or collar & tie!To most people, certainly the very culprits, your story is extremely far fetched, which makes you the guilty party. I also agree that you are guilty of existing, & also of continuing to breath, equally of writing your Post. I am very glad that you did write it, you are no longer alone. I am already with you, at least in spirit.I believe every word, simply because I have had extremely similar for the past 16 years, since my return from exile, 03/03/95. My own story, while just as unique as yours, is only slightly different. It began different, etc. In the past 5 years, I am also acquainted with several others, mostly Ladies, of various ages, who also suffer the extreme arrogance, ignorance, insolence, & plain stupidity of the various civil service departments & personnel. Some of the widows have lost their partners in extreme bizzare circumstances, through no fault of their own, & are now treated as criminals, & even vermin by those who are paid to assist. Others have simply shacked up with, or married Mr. Wrong. I have met many black eyes, & far worse.I simply could not hit any Lady or child, however bad. I could not even hit back, as a last resort, I would simply walk. I do not smoke or drink, & would never share a bed, or even a table with such, but I could not hit them! In the past 5 years I have assisted some of these victims, by writing very stiff letters to the relevant civil service departments, with copies to their superiors. I am oft relatively successful. These bullies do not know me, or even recognise my name, but appear to take fright when they see my name, rank, & title on the paper. It could also be that the legal lingo on the paper scares them. I oft quote "chapter & verse", complete with relevant Sections, Articles & Paragraphs. Obviously, "it looks good". I also give extremely short but firm deadlines. Anything to stir the brown stuff into their boots.All I know, is that it oft works. They tend to deliver on, or even before the deadline, however tight. I have absolutely no conscience over bullying them.I am acquainted with some disabled in wheelchairs who oft go camping, it may or may not be for you, they love it. I am also acquainted with an extremely intelligent, very well educated, 17 year young, autistic with vocal, possibly hearing problems. We have no communication problems, even if she is almost old enough to be my grand-daughter.If you believe that I could assist you somehow, PLEASE, go to my profile, then email me, or even \’phone me. My \’phone is always on, 24/7.Meantime, I wish you the very best possible for the New Year, & many more of \’em.

  14. Bill says:

    In terms of Xmas shopping, I hear from fairly reliable sources, & have also seen on here, that even the house of god is not doing such good business either. In theory, I would expect that more people would turn to religion in times of stress, as they did in the past, but in hard practise, maybe they have been disappointed by the results of the recent past, & are therefore turning to booze & other toxic substances instead. No doubt, some still yet attend church on Xmas day, even those who no longer attend at any other time. It is possibly a case of nostalgia, tradition, or even guilt. Even the church ramp up their advertising slightly for Xmas. If the Christian religion is of the past, then the sole purpose of the original Xmas, also Easter, is obsolete.True, I was not in church this Xmas, 1965 at the latest. I still yet remember Ulster of the late 60\’s & early 70\’s, many comrades came home in body bags. All fuelled & driven by the Christian religion. Even WW2 was sparked & fuelled to a great extent, by religious differences & disagreements. Meantime, I have many good friends who are German Jews, also many who are at least in name, or by birth, German Christians. Today they all live & work together in relative peace, sharing their bread & water, even their Xmas together, without problem.It is possible that Commercialism is destroying all other religion, or that religion is simply dying of old age, not from obesity, but from becoming obsolete. It could be a mixture of both, either way, Commercialism could simply be profiting from the resultant religious power vacuum. Commercialism certainly appears to be the emerging future religion, easily mistaken for Materialism, or at least Material Power, better known as Opulence, or even Corpulence. We have all been well & truly, warned. The writing has long since been on the wall.

  15. Bill says:

    Some of the middle class Have Alls appear to become increasingly arrogant & ignorant with their increasing Opulence. Some of the less Affluent become increasingly jealous & ignorant as their poverty & destitution worsens. The rift twixt Haves Alls, & Have Not’s, grows by the hour, caused not by a loss of, or shift in, religion, but by the religiously based politics. In UK, there are two different Christians in politics, the right wing, & the ultra right.The worst enemy the UK faces today, is the party political system, with two differing, & bickering, Christians, each pulling against the other, the worst possible case of infighting. This would be better replaced by a Democratic Referendum, a simple case of government of, by, & for, the people. Simple, clean, Self-Government.This would be completely independent of any church, or religion, including Oppulence, Affluence, Materialism, Commercialism, Booze, Nicotine, or any other form of toxic substance.We could still yet enjoy a Yuletide Bank Holiday, purely for the good of our health, all curled up under the duvet with our nearest & dearest, or even in front of a log fire, with the close familly. We couold even give the cook a long weekend off, enjoying home cooked beans, simply warmed through on a hob in front of the log fire, with toasted doorsteps on a good old fashioned toasting fork, over the fire. Even a bung waffle can be toasted twixt two forks over the fire.We are not compelled by law to eat all this modern industrially produced crap, or to consume all this toxic booze, both of which are shortening our lives by 30% or even more. The Industrial & Comercial Mafia are simply having a damned good laugh, at the expense of our health, & ultimately our lives. They are the Have Alls, who thoroughly enjoy keeping us Have Nots in our not so "Rightful" place.A happy, healthy, & prosperous new Year to all, including the Have Alls, & many more of \’em ! ! !

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