Buy your gifts at Marlborough's independent shops - for an even happier Christmas
Well, the Christmas lights are on. Christmas puddings are piled on the shelves in Waitrose. Everywhere, it seems, is selling wrapping paper. The pandemonium has begun.
I struggle with the idea that the success of Christmas is measured by how much money we spend. I know the economy needs us to buy stuff so that those who make the stuff get paid and can then buy their own stuff, and pay their taxes to contribute to our schools and hospitals. But the implication that the whole shebang is predicated on greed troubles me.
But – given that most of us willingly buy for those we love, and sometimes for those we don’t love but who we ought to, and sometimes for those we don’t know at all but who need a helping hand – we are still faced with the choice of where to do the wretched shopping.
I know how easy it is to shop online. A few clicks on Amazon, wait for the parcels to arrive – and it’s done. One evening in front of the telly wrapping it all up, and you can sit back with a sigh of relief and a glass of wine.
But who really benefits when we shop like that? Given Amazon’s tax-paying record, our schools and hospitals will have a lean time of it. Those who sell via Amazon maybe? But the site takes a significant percentage of anything you might buy there – I know, as a writer, that only those who sell thousands of copies can make enough to cover a weekly shop.
Okay, so you take a stand on Amazon, and check out the likes of Argos, and Waterstones, and ToysRUs. At least they pay their taxes and maybe some of their goods are manufactured in the UK.
Of course it’s easier to shop online. But we can also choose to spend the money in our own town. Trawl through the catalogues and find the right doll for little Nellie and then go into Ducklings and ask them to order it. Uncle Ned needs a book on Cricket – the White Horse Bookshop is there to help. Aunt Flo is a whizz in the kitchen – so drop into Valentiner Designs and see what they’ve got.
That way we still buy stuff for our nearest and dearest. But those who profit from our buying, making money to buy their own stuff, either live and work in our own town or employ people who live and work in our town. Surely, in this season of goodwill, we should support our independent traders. For if we won’t – who will?
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