Don?t be numbed by tabloid saturation ? the economic situation could make things difficult this Christmas

Comment: Money trouble

You don’t need me to tell you the economy’s gone all wrong, to use the technical fiscal term. It seems practically every news resource has more or less turned itself over to exclusively musing on fiscal matters. Musing because there’s often nothing new to report on – but the Credit Crunch is so high on the agenda of tabloids and broadsheets alike that you end up with anything on the subject qualifying as news.

This is usually an analyst whimsically waffling about might happen in two year’s time. If there’s not an analyst available you’ll see a plumber being interviewed about who’s to blame for creating a culture of borrowing beyond means (usually Brown) and what’s going to happen in the future (usually total annihilation for every country with a bank account). By the way, where were all these experts two year’s ago, if they’re so brimming with foresight?

Despite media flapping, the truth of the matter according to the Government, is that we are facing tough times as we head up to Christmas, and retail will be one of first and worst hit. The PC industry has shifted itself out of the ‘luxury good’ category sufficiently that when shoppers start running their fingers down the shopping list for things to cull – the first against the wall are surely that preposterously flavoured and named ice cream that costs £20, takeaway curries, and the next box set of that arbitrary US TV series you’ve been convincing yourself is gripping – often repairing, replacing or buying a new PC won’t be seen as dispensable.

People ‘need’ things like internet and email these days, just like businesses have evolved to become so intertwined with the technology that they become floundering, gasping fish when the server goes down.

However it would be foolish not to expect any repercussions for retail. While I might be jibing how often we’re reminded that there’s trouble in Britain’s collective wallet, they’re not making it all up. It’s worth thinking about how to squeeze the most out of a more reluctant customer base this Christmas – and most seem to think lower priced ‘gifty’ ideas will be a good way of buffering whatever trouble there may be ahead.

While you’re battling with that, the weight of Best Buy’s European invasion has been finally fleshed out, and it seems the UK will be the retail giant’s Normandy beaches for the 200 store assault.

Still, on the bright side, the PC Retail Awards are coming up. Wouldn’t winning one make all that trouble outside more bearable? Of course it would.

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