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A couple of weeks ago I wrote (Wait for it…wait for it!) about the  adrenaline kick from the instant gratification provided by shopping; remarking that we need look no further than the hysteria generated by Black Friday discounts as an example of retailers harnessing this effect to their advantage.  I went so far  as to suggest that retailers’ USPs might soon include ‘best fist fight in pursuit of a bargain’, or ‘best Black Friday riot’. Little did I think I might be predicting the future, or that 99p Stores would be so far ahead of the curve. But then in last Wednesday’s Guardian newspaper there appeared the headline, ‘Police called to quell riot as 99p store halts sale‘. 

sale bannerApparently police were called to a 99p Store in Wrexham, north Wales, after crowds flocked to a half-price sale, enticed by posters offering everything for 50p! But trouble flared when shoppers laden with cleaning products, toilet rolls, crisps and drinks, were told the sale was over – and everything was again 99p – as they queued to pay. Bedlam ensued, and the shop had to be closed when shoppers refused to leave, but no arrests were made.

Now, giving shoppers a thrill is one thing, but the roller coaster emotions engendered by a ‘now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t’ sale are taking it a bit too far don’t you think? And just how have we got to such a sorry state that a sale in a 99p shop generates this much excitement? It’s made me think though. I was always against moving police stations – and even courts – into retail premises to save money. But now – if we’re regularly going to experience ‘shopping-as-soap-opera’ – I’m not so sure! Shop, arrest, court, all in one place is so much more efficient. Or is this what they meant by bringing drama back to the high street. What do you think?

Michael Hoare