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Recession, what is it good for?

Going shopping in the past several months has become a completely different experience to before the ‘recession’, retail parks used to be full on weekends and our local town Basingstoke was heaving with shoppers on both Saturdays and Sundays, shops didn’t discount except for end of season and end of line products.

Recently I have been buying shoes that are ‘actually’ discounted from £100 to £30 because no one will buy them – I use the word ‘actually’ because a ‘dishonest’ feature of United Kingdom retail is the ‘Sale price is not necessarily a Sale price’ trick. Due to a rule that states so long as a product is listed at a different and higher price sometime during the year then that higher price becomes the full retail price, unfortunately the goods are not worth anywhere near that amount.

Very often furniture retailers are having a 50% sale and giving another 10% off the sale price! – now furniture retailers have resorted to interest free for 1-3 years with no payments for 12-24 months so there must be sufficient margin still built into the products.

Anyway I digress, when unemployment lifts by 1-2 percent, there are still a huge majority of people working, for all the people working with mortgages they will likely have had mortgage interest rates decreasing and therefore have more disposable income.

In a normal economy this allows individuals to continue living and spending and following that through into a recessionary environment should still hold true for the majority (after all only additional 1-2 per 100 people are out of work), so what actually happens?

We overspent, times were good and goods were easy to buy and conveniently available so we buy more, we buy gadgets we don’t need and spend on food that we wouldn’t normally buy and we go out for dinner regularly – everyone is happy, retailers and restaurants are making money.

Surely the lesson from the current recession, is, that you should start to live within your means and not give up all luxuries – be sensible, because this spending is what keeps the entire retail sector afloat, which in turn keeps Manufacturing, which in turn keeps research and discovery, mining etc alive.

After all we don’t all live in the US where the military machine keeps a huge portion of the economy within the borders and drives research and development.

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