Going about my daily chores, I have often wondered at the sheer volumes of people, visiting the UK, on shopping sprees. Of course, they won't have come just for the shopping: there are apparently various interesting historical and cultural attractions on this green island of ours. But shop many do. They head to Bicester Village. They swarm to Primark. They queue at the Apple store. In my mind some of this shopping seemed perverse. After all, not much of the stuff that people buy is made here and actually a lot of the tourists could well be travelling from places much closer to the point of origin of a lot of the stuff they take back with them.
But I think I may have worked it out. I mentioned in a recent post about the shopping centres in Malaysia. They are everywhere. Malaysia is a prosperous and fast-growing country. Lots of people have money to spend. Yet even the upmarket malls I went to were awful. For sure, they had all the brands there. Yet the shops themselves were often dead, and you only had to go inside to understand why. Even the local branches of the global retail megacorps had very poor selections and things seemed overpriced, even taking into consideration my flimsy purchasing pounds.
Somehow, despite the marble, clean lighting, refreshing air-con and reasonably-priced food stalls, these shops and malls were getting the shopping experience dead wrong. I am not a particular fan of the actual act of shopping, but even I can occasionally get enthused to spend money in UK shops.
I am not a retail expert, so I can't quite put my finger on what makes a British shop more appealing than a Malaysian one; but I can begin to see why tourists can get so excited about a shopping spree when they come here on their hols.
Long may it continue.