Social media. It’s a blessing and a curse. Sometimes it can go off on one creating a hooha over an offensive ad that is actually found not to be offensive at all. And at other times, a single disgruntled young woman can shame a national retail chain into rethinking its mannequins.
In the latest Facebook-offensive, Laura Berry, a customer services assistant from Stroud, Gloucestershire, took a photograph of one of a Topshop mannequins, calling it out for being “quite frankly ridiculously shaped”, and calling for solidarity in her deciding to use her “size 10/12 legs to walk straight out of your store”.
The offending mannequin in question, which the company claimed to be a size 10, was “stylised to have more impact” and was considerably taller than the average British woman at a whopping 6’1″. Within hours of being posted, Laura’s post on Topshop’s Facebook page garnered more than 3,000 likes and more than 700 comments, which even including a response from the retailer.
Laura accused the retail giant of a “lack of concern for a generation of extremely body conscious youth” saying that the stretched out mannequin would leave teenagers “wondering if that was what was expected of [their] bodies.” She cited studies which showed that unrealistic mannequins made young, impressionable women feel insecure, ending with the fairly rant-filled rant “So what makes you feel you can ignore everything that’s been said and considered by other high street stores and even some high fashion designers? What makes you so superior, Topshop? Perhaps it’s about time you became responsible for the impression you have on women and young girls and helped them feel good about themselves rather than impose these ridiculous standards.”
However, the vitriol seems to have taken Topshop by surprise, who admitted that the mannequins, which are made of solid fibreglass, were an unusual shape as “their form needs to be of certain dimensions to allow clothing to be put on and removed easily.” Novertheless, in a public response, Topshop have stated that, following the
very exceedingly cross frank views expressed by Laura Berry and other customers, it was “not placing any further orders on this style of mannequin”, which was “not meant to be a representation of the average female body.”
But is this really a victory? Last year Topshop were previously slated after a size 8/10 girl posed next to a Topshop mannequin, where her legs looked like treetrunks in comparison. And, much like catwalk models, aren’t mannequins supposed to be angular frames from which to drapes clothes, rather than an aspirational ideal for young people? Still, it’s a win for people power- it just remains to be seen whether the high street will adopt a more realistic style shop display- or whether they’d smply like to sell as many clothes as possible…
And why are they doing this? Well, in their bid to ’help prevent childhood obesity’, they don’t trust you adults to buy what you want from a shop. No, they’re going to have to remove things from the shelves so you irresponsible arseholes don’t destroy your children’s lives.
Of course, you might be really responsible and only give children these things once in a blue moon as a treat or, indeed, you might be an adult that doesn’t know any kids and likes drinking Ribena and Rubicon together in the same glass when you’ve got a hangover.
Tesco don’t care. They’re your new dad, now. And from 7th September, these products will be no more, just in time for the kids starting a new year of school.
Naturally, you’ll be able to go to the newsagents nearby and buy whatever you want without having Tesco dictate their values on you. And indeed, you can imagine they’ll still be selling cans of Coca-Cola and the like, so you wonder what on Earth they’re thinking.
And will other supermarkets follow suit? You can bet that they absolutely won’t and will try and exploit this idiotic decision by Tesco by having some lovely deals and offers on sugary drinks. Shall we assume that Tesco are going to get rid of all things that are bad for families, like cigarettes, wine and cake?
Apparently, over 1 million Brits have completely finished their Christmas shopping, according to some research. That’s 1,377,000 people, who have patted themselves on the back, that Christmas – bar the food – is taken care of.
Honestly. And Bitterwallet hasn’t even got anything in for its tea yet.
This survey was undertaken by the shopping mad people at channel QVC. They’ve also predicted that a gigantic £29 billion will be spent in total this Yuletide, which is up by £4.5 billion on the £24.5 billion forked out last year.
That’s an average spend of £650 each, including food and booze. And the biggest Christmas spenders are in the North East, which Wales is the Scrooge of the scenario.
Irritatingly, QVC will be making eyes at the organised, and they’re starting their special Christmas broadcasts from today. So if you’re after a dead-eyed doll that soils itself, some diamonique earrings or a scarf you can wear in 46 different ways as well as being a drain unblocker, you’re in luck.
To the rest of you – you’ve got over 150 days to get sorted. Don’t worry yourself.
Ikea – the shop where most people wander around and buy things like any other shop, while pretending that they’re always getting lost, arguing, and all manner of other imagined quirks – are going to start paying their British staff the living wage.
This will start next year.
Now, George Osborne announced a compulsory living wage for workers aged over 25, which equates to being paid £7.20 an hour, and it’ll rise to £9.35 by 2020.
Ikea looked at these numbers and thought vänta en minut! and decided that they would pay all of its UK workers the amount set out by The Living Wage Foundation. They’re the first retailer to do this, which will annoy some of their competitors no doubt.
So basically, you don’t have to wait until you’re 25 to get the living wage, which is good news. Provided you’re working for Ikea from April 2016 onward, of course.
“This is a huge step for the British retail sector and we hope that many other businesses will follow the leadership Ikea is showing on the issue of basic pay,” said Rhys Moore, director of The Living Wage Foundation.
As you’d imagine, it works in a very similar fashion to the rest of Amazon’s dealings. You go on a website, add a load of stuff to a basket, and then they deliver it to your house. Presumably when you’re not in, with your purchases thrown on the roof.
However, it isn’t as straightforward as, say, a Tesco grocery order. There’s a subscription to pay.
So, in the States, you get a free 30-day trial and then, after that, AmazonFresh will cost you $300 for a year’s worth of deliveries (plus the money you spend on your actual shopping) and you get Amazon Prime thrown in. Basically, it sounds like a load of rubbish.
With better alternatives already existing in the UK, it is tough to see why anyone would go for AmazonFresh, so maybe they’ll tweak the way they do things over here.
Are you a fan of wine? Do you drink loads of it, but feel like you’re not a borderline alcoholic because each glass is ‘deserved’ or ‘cheeky’? Well, if you want some really nice wine, you need to get yourself to Aldi.
At the International Wine Challenge, Aldi came up trumps with their £6.99 own-label plonk called ‘The Exquisite Collection Clare Valley Riesling’, and apparently, it actually doesn’t taste like indigestion in a fancy bottle.
The International Wine Challenge is a made up of an experienced panel of judges, who are all really good at rolling wine around their mouths and making impenetrable notes on the whole thing. Rest assured, the review you’re interested in is that it is ‘really nice’.
And at £6.99, you don’t need to be a wine connoisseur to get stuck into a bottle.
Tony Baines, Aldi’s managing director for corporate buying, said: “We are delighted to have received a Great Value Champion award. It reinforces our core principles of offering our customers great tasting, world class wines at affordable prices, and making the exciting world of wine accessible to all.”
Aldi know what they’re doing. They won the title of ‘Multiple Wine Retailer of the Year’ from their posho mates at Waitrose in February 2015. So even if the bottles of The Exquisite Collection Clare Valley Riesling have sold out, you’d be advised to chance your arm – and your liver – on something else from their shelves.
The Competition and Markets Authority have found that supermarkets are misleading shoppers with their confusing promotions. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? The CMA said that supermarket prices and promotions “have the potential to confuse or mislead consumers and which could be in breach of consumer law”.
Tesco, Asda, Sainsburys, Morrisons – are you listening? The CMA would like to see an end to ‘was/now’ promotions, where the cheaper price is advertised as a promotion for longer than the higher price was ever shown for, okay?
The CMA want the government to get involved as well, so we can trust new standards about ‘unit prices’, so we can see what the price of a single item is within a multipack.
And will the supermarkets be running scared? Well, it is worth pointing out that the CMA actually came up a little short of launching an actual full-on investigation on this and really, they’re just shouting into the wind really and the supermarkets are invariably going to ignore them. Asking the government to get involved is like talking to a pug – they’re only going to look at you with that gormless face of theirs.
Nisha Arora, CMA honcho said: “We have found that, whilst supermarkets want to comply with the law and shoppers enjoy a wide range of choices, with an estimated 40pc of grocery spending being on items on promotion, there are still areas of poor practice that could confuse or mislead shoppers.”
“So we are recommending further action to improve compliance and ensure that shoppers have clear, accurate information.”
If you’ve shopped at a Co-op recently, it might be worth checking your bank statement. That’s because hundreds of thousands of Co-op customers may have been charged twice, thanks to a cock-up involving consumers using their cards in the retailer’s food shops or petrol stations.
A spokesman for the Co-operative said the error occurred on Tuesday, and that it wasn’t possible to say how many people this mess had affected.
Either way, those that have been affected will have their money credited directly back to their accounts within the next 24 hours, he said.
If there are any incurred overdraft fees or what have you, the Co-operative has also promised to reimburse you, which is decent of them.
A spokesman for the Co-op said the mistake was down to a “processing error”.
Well, they’ve just announced that, from 23rd July 2015, the minimum basket spend for those of you who shop online for groceries, will change from £25 to £40.
Of course, you can still spend below that amount, but if you do, you’ll find yourself paying the £4 surcharge. No such charge will apply if your order falls below £40, thanks to substitutions or unavailable items, but either way, that’s going to be quite the jump for some customers.
You can use your Clubcard vouchers to pay for your Delivery Saver, which you can find out about over at www.tesco.com/clubcard.
However, if you were using Tesco because they were cheaper than a lot of their rivals, the retailer may well find people thinking that they may as well shop elsewhere.
You’ll be able to get up the shops on a Sunday for longer, thanks to George Osborne’s Budget this week. Jesus and his friends may well be very, very unhappy about this, but at least they’ll be able to get a latte and some trainers after they’ve finished at church.
Sunday trading laws currently hamstring businesses, which says that they can’t trade for more than six hours. Seems preposterous, now that the internet is always open, and that seeing as most people only have two days off a week, one of the days wouldn’t have shops open all the time.
Only small shops (so, corner shops and the like) can open for more than six hours, but that’s all about to change under the new plans.
Basically, the Budget is going to allow Sunday trading hours to become a devolved issue, which means that your local council will decide who long the shops can open for. Seeing as there’s potentially a lot of money to be made from all this, they’ll all be rather keen to give the retailers a free rein.
This also opens up a lot of jobs for people too, which is always a good thing.
“Even two decades on from the introduction of the Sunday Trading Act, it is clear that that there is still a growing appetite for shopping on a Sunday,” George Osborne said. “There is some evidence that transactions for Sunday shopping are actually growing faster than those for Saturday.”
“The rise of online shopping, which people can do round the clock, also means more retailers want to be able to compete by opening for longer at the weekend. But this won’t be right for every area, so I want to devolve the power to make this decision to mayors and local authorities. This will be another part of my plan to ensure a truly national recovery, with our great towns and cities able to determine their own futures.”
Everyone loves to hate Black Friday, and not only because it’s (in this country) largely an Amazon thing- after all, we in the UK seem to only know the date of Thanksgiving as it’s the day before Black Friday, which seems to be the wrong way round. And why have Christmas in November as well as December anyway? In any case, if Black Friday deals didn’t excite you enough, Amazon are planning to blow your proverbial socks off with a new discount day hitting your browsers on Wednesday 15th July. The catch? You have to be a Prime member to participate.
The shopping extravaganza will be on the eve of Amazon’s 20th birthday, and the day, catchily named ‘Prime Day’, promises even more deals than Black Friday. As with its predecessor, Prime Day will see ‘lightning deals’ on products including electronics, toys, video games, clothing, and health and beauty items, with new deals starting every 10 minutes. However, surely the success or failure of Prime Day will depend on the quality of deals, not just the quantity- one million deals saving 40p on a toilet brush are not comparable to 10,000 discounted Xboxes, perhaps.
But if you fancy a piece of the action, what can you do? If you are already a Prime member (which includes Amazon Student and Amazon Family Prime members) you don’t need to do anything- just sit back and relax and, assuming you are signed in, once you visit the website on 15 July, you will be able to access the deals. If you are not already a member, the criteria for joining in on crazy impulse purchasing next week includes those on a free trial of Prime- meaning that if you are eligible for one, you can take part for nothing. Just remember that Amazon will start charging you £79 per year after the free trial ends (which is kind of the point of it) , so make sure you know how to cancel it, and the date by which you must do so to avoid being charged. If you think you’d like to sign up for Prime anyway, perhaps to benefit from the free Prime streaming movies or the Kindle lending library that come with the free delivery and cloud storage, provided you do so before midnight on July 8th you can get £20 off the annual fee for the first year, meaning you only have to cough up £59.
“We’re offering Prime members thousands of deals on Prime Day. In fact, in the UK we are offering more than double the number of deals that we offered last Black Friday,” said Christopher North, managing director at Amazon UK, boasting that “Prime Day is the latest benefit for Prime members and you can expect us to add further benefits and features to this great service over time.”
Without knowing precisely how great the Prime Day deals are likely to be, it is impossible to tell whether it is worth the hassle of a free trial. Whether it’s worth paying the £79 (£59) to join if you weren’t going to anyway is probably easier to judge- to recoup that cost would take an awful lot of toilet brushes…
But we’ll watch and see about Prime Day next week before passing judgment.
You may recall that Dixons and Carphone Warehouse became one, a while ago. Together, they’re going to start throwing their considerable weight around and, now, they’re going to America like they’re Eddie Murphy’s Prince Akeem or something.
Dixons Carphone will be tagteaming with American network Sprint, where they’ll open 20 retail stores (or, if you prefer, ‘shops’). This is the first stage of the plan, which could see them opening 500 places. Sprint have a big sway in the USA, with 57 million mobile customers.
“This is a very exciting venture for us, and is a significant step in growing our CWS business in the US,” said Andrew Harrison, deputy chief of Dixons Carphone and chief executive of CWS. “We bring specialist knowledge and skills to this partnership and will be looking to deliver innovation and outstanding customer service under the Sprint brand.”
The love-in continued with Marcelo Claure, Sprint’s chief executive, who cooed: “We are excited to partner with Dixons Carphone and to leverage all their know-how as one of the world’s leading wireless retailers to benefit Sprint and its customers. We are committed to offering the best customer experience when buying wireless products and services.”
So there you go Americans! Isn’t this the most exciting thing to happen to you since Michael Jackson did the moonwalk at the 25th anniversary of Motown show?
Currently, you’re allowed to order items from the John Lewis website and have it delivered to their nearest John Lewis or Waitrose store for free.
That’s not to say you won’t be able to get smaller items through this system; only now, you’ll have to pay a £2 charge for these small orders. The retailer says that this should only affect around 20% of the orders they get in, but there’s sure to be disappointment from some quarters.
In a speech declaring company’s new plans for click and collect, and the desire to “take a leadership position” in the future of the service (whatever the hell that means), John Lewis managing director Andy Street, said the company “is sure customers will understand why we are doing this.”
“It’s illogical that this can be produced at no cost.”
While we’ve all been looking at Aldi and Lidl’s growth, and how it has chipped away at Tesco, one of the retailers that has been faring most badly is Asda, with their market share on a drastic slide. The supermarket’s sales slid 3.5% in the 12 weeks to 21 June.
They’re not alone of course – Tesco and Sainsbury’s saw their sales falling by 1.3%.
Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, had this to say: ”The two discounters increased their sales by 15.4% and 9.1% respectively. Aldi reached a new high with a 5.5% share of the market while Lidl, also showing continued growth, rose to 3.9%.”
“Waitrose also grew ahead of the market, with sales increasing by 1.2%, moving to a 5.1% share.”
As previously reported numerous times, the cheaper end of the market is faring well, as is the more middle-class end of the sector. Asda reported their first full-year decline in underlying sales in February, and things don’t appear to be correcting themselves.
And it looks like the supermarkets that are treating their suppliers the best, are the ones who are performing the strongest on the high street. Consumers are still shopping, but can the big guns turn everyone back into their aisles?
While out-of-town supermarkets have been ailing, Ikea have been doing just fine, with people travelling to get their throws and furniture. That said, soon, you might not have to travel very far if you’re after some meatballs, as Ikea have decided to start opening smaller, high street stores.
Of course, thanks to these shops being smaller, there’ll be less furniture on offer, but there’ll be click-and-collect facilities, and their famous Scandinavian cafes.
The first of these small stores will open in Norwich, and it could well be a success, as people who don’t drive might be more inclined to buy Ikea stuff, if they’ve got a little, local shop to go in. The retailer has been struggling to find land that was large enough to accommodate their enormo-shops, so this is the next best thing.
Gillian Drakeford, UK country manager, said: “We know that consumers in the UK like to shop across many channels and are using multiple devices.”
“Our customers are also telling us that with 18 stores in the UK, we are often too far away. Order and Collection Points give us the opportunity to trial new ways of being more accessible.”