This is the mindset of many people nowadays – they want everything cheap or preferably for free. It is contradictory though and I don’t think it is very well thought through. There are consequences that we may come to regret in later times, or at least some socially and economically aware people may regret it.
- “We want it cheap (or preferably free) and we want it now.”
- “We want realistic wages for workers and we want fair working conditions for all.”
We seem to want the second statement a lot less than we want the first one.
- “We don’t like big businesses taking over.”
- “We want to support local businesses and independent shops.”
We may think we believe both of those statements until we remember the original statement about wanting everything cheap and wanting it now!
What a contradictory and confusing world we live in! We want to be supportive and hope that big businesses treat its employees fairly and well. But not at the expense of how much we have to pay.
The lure of a bargain
- “I bought this top, it was a bargain, it was only £3.00. It doesn’t matter if it falls apart after a couple of wears as I will just go and get another one.”
- “I bought this better quality top from the shop next door. You can see the workmanship and craft gone into it. You can tell by looking at it that it is going to last.”
The standards of an increasing number of people seem to be contradictory and I am not sure whether people are aware of even doing this.
We all claim to be nice people, wanting just reward for people’s hard work, wanting to support local jobs and companies. We want to support fair trade too, we want to support ethical trading and place value on those who treat their employers and suppliers in the pipeline morally and ethically well. We see all this as ‘a good thing’. But on the other side of the scales, the lure of a ‘bargain’ seems to be too loud a shout in the minds of many in 2017’s Britain.
They can afford it!
- “Well it doesn’t matter, does it? These big businesses can afford it!”
Some businesses may very well be able to afford it, but what is the effect on smaller businesses trying to compete who can’t afford it? What is the knocknock-onect on them? By going for a cheap or low-value option, are you feeding the profit line of a multi million pound company and also seeing smaller firms out of business? I am sure you will miss them when the smaller shops disappear and you are left only with chain shops. It will be too late then though.
What happens next?
What happens if this trend continues? Your local fruit and veg stall that has been trading for years goes out of business. We’ve already seen the demise of milk deliveries. Local butchers are closing across the land as it is too hard to compete with the large supermarket chains who can sell at a loss on some products knowing they’ll get a profit on the overall basket price.
Does it matter? Does where you as a consumer shop matter? It depends partly on what your values really are? Are you someone who likes to buy products from an expert who knows everything there is to about their game, or whether the price is the only factor.
Is bowing down to big chains something you are happy to do? It’s not a ‘selling your soul’ thing granted, but where do you see the balancing line? Is it in the amount things cost, or the quality of the product, the expertise that is provided by the proprietor?
Do we have a social responsibility to support the local community independent retail infrastructure we supposedly value? Do we sacrifice this in exchange for a few extra pennies here or there? Do we sometimes or more often forgo quality for price?
In the long-term, what happens then?
What is the long-term cost of this? Too many large businesses are using any loophole in the tax system to not pay as much tax as they should. Too many large businesses COULD pay a better wage to those that work for them lower down the scales, but will often try to get away with as low as possible wages knowing that people don’t have an abundance of options when starting out in the job market.
Too many larger businesses focus on selling products from other large businesses and not looking to feature smaller providers. Innovative start-up businesses don’t get the same opportunities to sell to market through the larger retail outlets. This perpetuates the problem, they look after their own. They (big business) run the game, they are in charge.
When the big guys are in charge and are running the game, customers don’t matter half as much as they do to the smaller business. If you get bad service from a supermarket, they may apologise but will the service improve? If they lose your business, you’re just a drop in the ocean to them. If you get a bad experience from a smaller business, they care about retaining your business. Customer service IS important to a smaller well run business.
Choices – choose well!
We all have choices when we go shopping, we all face options to choose from. All I ask is that you think about the choices you make. Does paying a bit extra provide a better quality product?
Would going to a small business give you better service? Do you think about where your money goes to? To a multi-million pound business, or to help a family pay their bills and put food on the table? Choose well, whichever choice you make.