Friday, December 22, 2006

Lastminute dot wrong

Amongst all the visitors to the shop this week, a significant number of people have been commenting on just how awful the shopping experience has been this year - not in the shops around Abingdon, I hasten to add, but at the big supermarket and retail centres (notably Tescos and Oxford town centre). I don't know whether it's the recent weather, with the fog and travel chaos creating a very depressing and oppressive atmosphere, but we've been hearing stories of people being assaulted in shopping aisles, or being bumped, shoved, insulted and generally abused by the masses in scrums outside department stories, etc. I'm sure this happens every year - but of course this is the first year 'behind the counter' (so-to-speak) and therefore the first time I've been able to collect this kind of anecdotal data. I used to be a classic last minute Christmas shopper when I was younger. I still have very fond memories (when I was a teenager, living in Weymouth) of bimbling around the seafront shops, buying a load of inappropriate gifts with the little money I had (more often than not, lent to me by Mum and Dad anyway). There was one particular shop - Austins - which was a treasure trove of both tat, great stuff you couldn't get anywhere else (there was probably a reason for that), as well as records and tapes. One year I bought all my Christmas presents there, including a particularly nasty porcelain statue of an eagle on a rock. As far as I know, my Mum (bless her) still has it. I really hope it's still there (Austins that is - not the eagle). I no longer do stuff at the last minute. The big change these days (apart from having absolutely no time to go Christmas shopping this year) is that Nicki and I have something like six family birthdays in December (including Alex, who turns three on the 29th). So Christmas is now planned like the proverbial military campaign, and planned months before. Tomorrow is our last day before Christmas - and we're obviously expecting it to be busy. So far, however, our experience of the last minute rush has been completely different. People have been friendly, chatty, sometimes a bit stressed, but we usually can help them with a few ideas, etc. It's been exhausting, but a lot of fun. So - is shopping typical this year or has Christmas (in the words of one of our customers this week) snuck up on people this year and created a bit more panic than usual?

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