Local Christmas shopping: stocking fillers

Our local shops are feeling the pinch in the recession and some are warning that they might have to close. So, as I explained in my last post, I’ve decided this year to try to spend as much of my Christmas budget in my home community as I can.

I headed into town the other afternoon on a present shopping mission. But an hour or so later, I was beginning to wonder if I’d bitten off more than I could chew. Our high street is a mixture of chain stores, such as Superdrug and New Look, and some independent stores. So I thought I’d explore the independent ones first to see if there were any good bargains or inspiration for presents lurking in there. I was curious because there were a few I’d never actually ventured into before.

However, on reflection, this was probably because I’d sensed they were out of my league. In one of the clothes shops everything was beautifully set out and the staff friendly and not too pushy. But on examining the price labels I knew I was out of my depth. The cheapest item I could find was a £50 scarf. They were evidently catering for more upmarket clientele, so I beat a swift retreat. Perhaps I’ll pay another visit when they have a sale on. On the bright side, there were plenty of other customers in there, so hopefully they were spending some money. I tried some other independent clothes stores which were more reasonably priced but couldn’t find what I was looking for.

Later I visited a couple of gift shops but found some of the merchandise a bit overpriced and not really my cup of tea. I’m not a fan of kitsch and I like presents that someone will actually use. Eventually, when I was considering giving up, I found another gift shop with some unusual costume jewellery. There were some beautiful big chunky bracelets and one which made a good present for a close female relative and at £15, not too expensive. At the till I asked the proprietor how business was doing. She said things had begun to pick up in the last few days but it had ‘been a long time coming’ and that people seem to leave Christmas shopping to the very last minute now.

A friend of mine said one of the independent high street chemists sold perfume at reasonable prices, so I thought I’d investigate. The perfume was surprisingly well priced, even compared with Superdrug, but they didn’t have the brand I was looking for, so in the end I had to go to Superdrug. However, I did pick up a pretty scarf in the chemists for £4.99 which made another good present, and I found a nice outfit for my goddaughter in one of the department stores.

All in all, I was disappointed not to find more presents on our high street to suit my budget. But I did have more luck in our local garden centre, where I picked up a great book for just £4.99 and some other stocking filler presents for a few pounds each. And managed to get my wrapping paper and labels for £1 each from our local newsagents. Hopefully I’ll have more luck keeping my Christmas food shopping local. I’ll let you know how I get on later in the week.

Is it impossible for local shops to compete with high street chains on pricing and choice? Leave a message and let me know.

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2 Responses to Local Christmas shopping: stocking fillers

  1. Flo says:

    If you really want to do frugal for Christmas, the best way is to talk to your friends and relations. You may find that they are more than happy to cut down on their present list. Is it better to buy fewer items and support local retailers where you can because you have more cash available? Remember that your local, independent shop can’t buy in bulk like the supermarkets and chains but can provide class items if there are the customers willing to pay. If you have local shops selling kitsch (is that a polite term for expensive tat?) then that is because probably they have the customers for it. And how many of us would happily forego the stocking fillers for one nice, useful item or one with a touch of class? Many of us I suspect. Stocking fillers are far too apt to end up in the charity shop in the New Year.

  2. Bill says:

    Virtualy all my recent & distant friends appear to have gone AWOL, mostly without trace, whch is at least saving me a few pence in season\’s greetings. There are some I would like to send cards, & stay in touch with. Sadly, they are not all computer literate, even worse, some have a serious problem spelling their own name. I am attempting to resume their literacy classes, also cumputer & IT literacy, on a voluntary basis, if I can locate suitable premises for a few hrs/wk, free, in the local area.They had their previous progress rudely stopped when a large local charity hit the buffers, due to massive cuts in sponsorship by Sandwell MBC, & two other smaller sponsors, who simply saw a sinking ship after the council pulled the Lion\’s share. The Lighthouse Project had so many embedded & other p- & full-time volunteers, all donating so much time & effort to those in need, many even worse off than themselves. They were quietly saving the state so much taxpayer\’s hard earned cash, mostly without complaint. Many of those in need, as also many of the volunteers, are sitting around at home now, doing nothing useful, & possibly freezing to death, due to "cash-flow" problems. Many service users, as also volunteers, will already be lonely, some desperately, they only need an adequate room, with adequate heat, light & a suitable kettle, where they can sit, & work together, doing something useful, & looking toward a slightly better future. Some of them are extremly shy, with extreme low self-esteem & very little self-confidence. A community venture is crucial to these people, as the mainstream employment & social authorities appear to have given up on them. Anyone devoid of both driving license, & EDCL, or over 30 years old, is treated by the Jobcentre as a complete write-off, & simply dumped on full Incapacity for the remains of their lives. The state, as also the private employers, mostly large corporations, will not retrain or educate these people, but simply import more over-expensive graduates from various parts of the world. Most of these graduates are a complete waste of space in the work place. They have even less trade skills, & industrial experience than the civil service, almost as bad as the politicians.My familly, with the exception of my brother, have long since made themselves scarce, & in terms of communication, are worse than Trappist Monks. I have met very few since the 1950\’s, & have no means of contact, as my brother communicates as little as possible with anyone, just as celibate as Trappist Monks, he prefers to live solo, & deters any form of visitor.So, while Xmas will not cost me owt, I will work on through Xmas, for free, attempting to understand this bright new brand of christianity which appears to be predominant in modern UK.

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