I went into Leeds yesterday to try and find a suitable uni-mate’s-imminent-wedding-outfit, a sartorial minefield if ever there was one.
The city centre was absolutely heaving – queues to get into the cars parks, lines 10 deep at every Starbucks/Costa Coffee/Café Nero, massive hold-ups at the changing rooms and an audience gathered four deep around some experiential Nokia promotional stuff.
But no-one was actually buying anything.
OK, I exaggerate slightly, but there certainly weren’t queues at the tills and everyone wasn’t staggering round weighed down by shopping bags. There were far too many shop assistants milling round the tills looking bored.
My analysis is that everyone was still ‘shopping’ as a leisure activity – browsing, trying things on and stopping for a coffee. They just weren’t parting with any cash.
I suppose in these uncertain times it’s easy to treat yourself to a three quid latte and a wander round the shops and feel like nothing has changed. When in fact it’s looking increasingly likely that almost everything has already changed in some small way.