In yet another attempt to prefix days of the week with stupid words and then try to make them a thing, today is apparently called MELTDOWN FRIDAY. Does it mean that we will all fall through the earth’s crust and into its fiery core? Well no. It means that loads of people will do their Christmas shopping today. Wait, where are you going?
Retailers are braced for the busiest shopping day of the year today, when pre-Christmas gift-buying hits its peak and the British public will spend a whopping £1.3 billion. Debit and credit cards will receive a bashing, with people spending approximately £870 million on them, and there’ll also be £500 million spent in cash. The rest will be electronic payments and cheques.
A study from the Centre of Retail Research says that sales are due to peak around…NOW. Well, in ten minutes, anyway. That’s when Britain’s tills are merrily melting with the strain of processing all those onesies and Aramis gift sets and Furbys.
Britain is predicted to spend a total of £36 billion on mince pies, tinsel and presents that nobody likes this year – up 4% from last year. And in January, we’ll all be looking at a credit card bill of a painful £9bn.
Will it be worth it? Nah. But let’s do it anyway.
Sports Direct is embroiled in a spat with Adidas after the trainer-maker refused to supply the retailer with Chelsea’s new kit. Sports Direct have said that Adidas is planning to restrict supply of Chelsea’s kit for the 2014/2015 season.
Dave Forsey, chief executive of Sports Direct, said the move is “impossible to understand”, adding: “We believe this will inevitably lead to a significant reduction in access to these kits and price inflation to consumers.”
“Sports Direct will pursue various strategic options in order to protect its leading global market position within the football category.”
It appears that Adidas are preferring to sell the kit through their own website and via the Chelsea club shop. That means they can control the price more closely and cut out all middle men. This invariably means consumers miss out on great offers for football shirts, which are eye-wateringly expensive as it is. If this scheme works for Chelsea, then it may well transpire that all football shirts are sold this way.
There’s tittle-tattle to be had in this tale though. Sports Direct is owned by Mike Ashley who just happens to own Newcastle United too. Adidas used to make Newcastle’s kit, but now they use Adidas’ arch-rivals Puma (if you don’t know about the excellent family feud between Puma and Adidas, click here) so the three stripe band might be making this personal.
However, Sports Direct reported a 23.5% rise in revenues to £1.35bn, with pre-tax profits up too, so Adidas might be cutting their nose off to spite their face with this move.
“We have delivered another strong performance reflecting our continued focus on providing customers with exceptional quality and unbeatable value – reinforcing our position as the consumer champion,” Forsey added.
There’ll be no children singing Christian rhyme in Costa Coffee this year, as the popular chain has banned the song from being played in any of its stores this Christmas.
In a clear case of the pot calling the kettle, the move came after Cliff’s homage to booze and poisonous greenery was voted the most hated Christmas song in a Costa poll of 3000 customers.
Kevin Hydes from Costa said: ‘The festive happiness of our customers and staff is our upmost priority.’
It’s not been a great year for Cliff. His sleazy calendar is nowhere to be seen, and in another survey of hated Christmas songs recently, Mistletoe and Wine, Millennium Prayer, and Saviours Day took the top three.
However, the Costa survey had some glaring inaccuracies. The excellent ‘Christmas Wrapping’ by The Waitresses came in at number 3, and that’s the best Christmas song ever. And these tedious mainstream latte drinking philistines also had the temerity to slag off ‘Little Saint Nick’ by The Beach Boys.
Don’t listen to the haterz, Cliff. There’ll be logs on the fire, and gifts on the tree, and time to rejoice in the good that we see. In Starbucks.
Forget Christmas presents, this year people will be cutting back on grocery costs in an attempt to make ends meet. New figures from Vouchercodes show that this year, we will be spending an average of £125 on festive seasonal food and drink – down 15 per cent on last year (£143) and less than half the amount we were able to be spend in 2011 (£264).
Shoppers in East Anglia are cutting back the most, spending £25 less than the national average (£100) while those in the North East will be splashing out the most on festive treats with the average Christmas grocery price tag of £147. Must be all that Nukey Brown. The 45-54 age group are the most extravagant shoppers with an average spend of £178 this year in comparison to the 18-24 age group spending close to 50 per cent less with an average spend of £98.
Despite the scandalous price of turkey in December (when supermarkets can’t give it away at any other time of the year), the cost of entertaining is cited as the main reason UK shoppers’ groceries are more expensive over Christmas, with two fifths blaming their hosting duties for the increased shopping bill (42 per cent). The West Midlands is the most generous region for festive freeloaders, as 55 per cent of UK adults accommodate family and friends with food and drink.
Anita Naik, lifestyle editor of VoucherCodes said: “Despite being a season to enjoy themselves, consumers are feeling the financial burn more than ever this year. Christmas can be a hard time of year to get the balance right between splurging on treats and covering essential costs. It is sad to see that for the second year running, families are forced to cut back further on their Christmas groceries to stay afloat – especially as indulging in festive food and drink is widely seen as one of main things to look forward to.”
Still, one way to save cash on your Christmas dinner is to check what offers and discounts are out there. Most of the bigger supermarkets will have offers that change regularly to keep an eye out, especially for the more expensive bottles of spirits.
Checking voucher and deals sites like HUKD can also help save a little bit extra. At the moment you can pick up £12 off a £60 spend from Tesco or the slightly less generous £1 off some spuds at Asda. Every little helps. Oh, wait.
Alternatively, you could just do all your shopping at Aldi instead- and you can currently win £150 to do your whole Christmas shop on their facebook page . If you’re into that kind of thing.
It’s looking like a difficult Christmas for retailers – according to economists from IHS Global Insight, who predict that high street sales will struggle.
The barometer for this, is of course, John Lewis, who are the queen bee of the high street. They reported a 1.8% rise in sales last week, but not all is as it seems. Week on week sales dropped by 1.7%, and retail analysts are not exactly confident about John Lewis’ predictions – take away online sales, and the figures have dropped by 5%. And if JL ain’t doing well, you can bet nobody else will be.
So what does this mean for us? Well, more DISCOUNTS. Because stores that aren’t languishing in the same feted position as John Lewis will obviously need to catch up by grabbing customers any way they can. Howard Archer, from IHS said:
‘John Lewis reported reasonable but unspectacular sales figures, which maintains uncertainty as to just how good a Christmas this will be for retailers. Consequently, a number of retailers may feel under increasing pressure to engage in discounting and promotions over the coming days.’
So we might get some pre-Christmas bargains, but it won’t be plain sailing for the high street.
I blame the bloody bear and the hare.
It seems some of the biggest supermarkets don’t like the idea of Scotland going independent and are threatening to put their prices up North of the Border.
The chief exec of Asda, one of the retailers saying they’ll be putting their prices up, added that an independent Scotland may well be a less attractive place to invest, even though the Scottish government said that they’d lower taxes to make the country more competitive.
“The cost of doing business in different parts of the country does vary,” said Andy Clarke, the chief executive of Asda and they’ve have higher distribution costs in Scotland, on top of cost to a public health levy on shops that sell booze and cigs. ”A ‘Yes’ vote in 2014 could result in Scotland being a less attractive investment proposition for business and put further pressure on our costs,” he said.
A spokesman for Morrisons, also thinking of sticking their prices up, said: “Why should customers in Cardiff subsidise those in Aberdeen?”
Tesco and Sainsbury’s are currently saying “no comment”, but the Financial Times reckon that one of the Big Four have already agreed to put prices up in Scotland.
The Scottish National Party are already planning to cut corporation tax and fuel duty, in a bid to keep retailers costs down and a spokesperson told the BBC: “Scotland would be more competitive and less costly than at present. There is no reason why retail prices in an independent Scotland would be any higher than at the moment.”
Energy companies are clearly getting good at swaying government opinions, persuading Cameron to look at green levies in exchange for cheaper bills for all – are the supermarkets publicly trying their luck too?
It’s a sign of the times when a supermarket has to cut back on its cleaning bill to save cash, but that’s what mucky Morrisons is doing this winter. In a triumph of bizarre logic, bosses have decided to cancel window cleaning at all its stores in a war against slipping sales, which dropped by 2.4% in the third quarter of this year.
The argument Morrison’s have given is this.
‘The weather forecast for this winter shows an increase in snow and frost.’
And as we know, snow is CLEAN. Except when it melts and becomes like grit filled human effluence. They added:
‘Morrisons has decided to reduce window cleaning at stores because it is less important to customers at the darkest time of the year, because the water that runs off windows can be a slippage hazard in the winter, and so we can spend money on maintenance activity that our customers do care about at this time of year.’
Like tinsel! (Covered in dirt).
The cut came into effect on the 2nd December and window cleaners won’t be back again until February, when presumably, the shop will be just called ISONS, and coughing, diseased staff will have desperately scrawled ‘CLEAN ME’ all over the front of the store.
Don’t know about you, but I might take my business elsewhere…
Aldi are going to launch their own tablet for under £80 as it climbs on the bandwagon of Tesco and Argos who launched their own budget devices.
The 7-inch Medion Lifetab E7316 will be available in stores from Sunday for £79.99, but stocks are limited. It’ll have 8GB of storage and a screen resolution of 1024×600 with a four hour battery life. Not great, but this is clearly aimed at the starter market.
Aldi’s Lifetab weighs 301g and runs Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean processor on a 1.6GHz quad-core CPU. It has front and rear facing cameras with 0.3MP and 2MP resolutions respectively. You can up the memory with a card if it doesn’t have enough space for you.
The main thing here is that this tablet undercuts MyTablet and the Hudl device by £20. Tempted?
Amazon have barely announced their drone service, and Waterstone’s is already taking the piss. The book vendors have made a video announcing a service where owls will deliver your paperbacks to you.
Can we sue them if they don’t see this through?
The rise of the budget supermarkets continues –with Lidl planning to double the amount of UK stores to 1500. Everywhere you go there’ll be a Lidl. The UK will be littered with off brand German biscuits and tubs of coleslaw the size of your head, and there will NEVER be any time to pack your bag at the till.
Unlike Tesco, who are struggling like a kitten down a well, Lidl sales are growing by 18% a year. Owner Ronny Gottschlisch (try saying THAT when you’ve had a few) said they were trying to put their cheap and cheerful budget image behind them and grow into a force to be reckoned with.
‘We really see ourselves these days more of a supermarket than the hard discounter of the past.’ He said. ‘Those times are over.’
What they want now is to appeal to their target demographic, a person called a ‘Maidstone Mum.’
‘Those Maidstone Mums are no longer afraid of being seen in a Lidl store,’ Mr Gottschlich said. ‘I actually do think we are entering a new era. I think that people’s perception in the past was that there must be something wrong with the quality of what those people at Lidl offer because they have such reasonable pricing in their stores.’
I can’t speak for those ladies in Maidstone, but I’ve only seen Glasgow Mums in my local store with a Berkeley Superking hanging out of their mouths, threatening children called Lacie-Ann near the JFC frozen nuggets. Still, it’s good to have ambition…
Christmas is coming and the shops are getting their displays ready. The best Bitterwallet has seen is this, spotted by an avid reader in “deepest Lancs”, which stars a lovely festive scene made out of beef dripping, surrounded by bits of carcass.
Feel free to send us any fine displays you spot.
[image Goff McGough]
Amazon are hoping that they won’t have to deal with pesky humans who complain about their working conditions by doing deliveries by drones.
During a TV appearance, Amazon bigwig Jeff Bezos played a video showing the little flying robot (an octocopter if you prefer) picking up goods in little buckets and scooting them through the air for delivery.
Of course, people are already mocking the idea, as seen below.
“I know this looks like science fiction. It’s not,” said Bezos. ”We can do half-hour delivery … and we can carry objects, we think, up to five pounds (2.3kg), which covers 86% of the items that we deliver. It’s very green… better than driving trucks around.”
These flying machines can cover areas within a 10-mile radius of a distribution centres and Amazon think they can implement this within the next 5 years. Naturally, there’s a lot of safety issues to resolve, but these octocopters would be “ready to enter commercial operations as soon as the necessary regulations are in place.”
The retailer already have a name for the service too: Amazon Prime Air. What do you make of it all?
The Great British high street is in such terminal decline that it needs to be bulldozed and rebuilt on a post war scale. That’s according to the rather dramatically named Distressed Town Centre Property Taskforce.
The taskforce was set up after Mary Portas was paid tons to go around tutting at shop windows and be photographed outside BHS in a directional catsuit – and it thinks that the entire infrastructure of the high street needs to be changed. The group, which is made up of retailers, investors, bankers and landlords has been researching possibilities for improvement for months. And their verdict is to KNOCK THE BUGGER DOWN.
The problem seems to be that there are too many shops. Endless branches of Claire’s Accessories, massive amounts of retail space, and giant malls. ‘There’s still a need for vibrant retail, just less of it.’ Said the group’s chairman, Mark Williams. ‘People do not shop in the same way.’
So what do they suggest? Well, a massive restructuring of city centres, a strategy to determine land ownership, a High Street property fund, flexibility to change use of empty properties, and more power for councils to purchase land.
Who’s going to pay for it? Well, they want funding to be restructured, too. Mark Williams added:
‘There is a huge amount of private sector funds available to regenerate town centres. But it requires scale and planning. What it’s not there is for piecemeal change, an ad hoc approach to fix the odd shop. So we’re looking about scale and critical mass. And in that sense the private sector will respond to local authorities and government initiatives.’
Oh, it all sounds very complicated. Can’t we just bung a couple of branches of Subway and a Millie’s Cookies in there and just hope for the best?
Veteran of the war, 92-year-old Tony Ball, was stopped from buying booze at his local Tesco, relieving him of his last pleasure on Earth, leaving him to stare blankly out of the window. Why was he stopped - because he didn’t have any ID (and well done for being able to read and remember a headline).
Tony was all set to get stuck into two bottles of vodka but found a check-out girl asking him to prove he was over 18. Let us look at his youthful face shall we?
Tony said: “I laughed, but she then said, ‘We’re not allowed to serve you if you’re underage’. By the look on her face she wasn’t joking. I said, ‘Do you mean it?’ and she said, ‘Yes’. So I said, ‘You can tell Tesco what to do with their stuff’, and walked out.”
One of the managers at the Tesco in Feltham, said that the staff member in question had done it before ‘as a joke’, continuing: “Our colleague was trying to be light-hearted, but we appreciate the joke wasn’t shared. We have apologised and we’re keeping Mr Ball’s bottles for him if he chooses to drop by, with our compliments.”
Most vending machines sell crisps and pop. However, there’s some special machines out there. In Europe, they have ones that give you chips cooked in goose fat! Meanwhile, the Selfridges on Oxford Street have installed a champagne dispenser.
This got installed in conjunction with Moet & Chandon to allow people easy access and so idiots like us would write about it and give them free publicity.
However, you won’t be able to pay for the champagne with coins. You have to get special tokens, which means you could’ve just paid for a bottle of bubbly the normal way at a counter.
The 200ml mini bottles on offer cost £17.99 are are covered in Swarovski crystals and are served via a robotic arm so they don’t smash.
You can hear all the poshos tittering about how quaint it all is, can’t you?