Dark shoppers.

Our local retailers have had a terrible time over the last 18 months. Not only have the pandemic restrictions prevented them opening and being able to staff their shops, but Jeff Bezos’s dominance has grown more than ever, fuelling our expectation for half price goods to delivered direct into our houses by drones in thirty minutes. Or just about.

I’m writing this at the end of November when we’re suffering from the blackness, the extension of ‘Black Friday’ into what has become Black Week, or to some ‘Black pre-Christmas time’. Retailers have reported shoppers avoiding them completely in November, in the hope that they’ll start pretty much giving their goods away in the run-up to Christmas to fall in line with the global retail curse of Black Friday. “Will this be on sale on Black Friday?’, ‘When does your three for two offer start?’, ‘When is everything 50% off?’.

The trouble is that Jeff and his pals in online retail that have low costs have squeezed super-tight margins and priced their own products with such strategies in mind. Fancy an Amazon Fire HD? Half price during the oxymoronic ‘Black Friday week’, a a five hour Happy Hour at the bar of retail. That term never made sense either (even though I obviously loved them as a student).

If you look in the description, the half-price deal on the Amazon Fire is the ‘with Ads’ edition. You’re basically buying a screen that lives in your house, listens to you and shows you adverts when it’s off or ‘sleeping’. Cheap exposure at half the price, as they’re selling those ads on your behalf. No wonder they’re such a cheap deal; they want ‘dark’ shoppers buying with Alexa ASAP.

That’s not normal though; our St Helier retailers don’t have a secondary income harvesting your data after you buy something from them. What they do offer is convenience and the ability to actually go and hold and see a gift for your chosen recipient. Sometimes that’s worth more than anything. We have over 100 items in our gift guide this month from local retailers and makers so support the local economy and go and actually pick something up this Christmas! See you in 2022.

BD