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  • Lawrence Bailey

No longer a consuming passion

I’ve never quite managed to get my head around the Black Friday phenomenon.

Don’t misunderstand me, I appreciate the prospect of a bargain as much as anyone. It’s the notion of fighting through frenzied crowds for the microwave of my choice that I find unsettling.

The same seems to have been true for a proportion of UK shoppers this year as stores report slightly less than expected numbers coming through the doors.

An estimated £8bn was registered at the tills. Yet consumer habits are changing noticeably as what used to be a frenetic scramble for a knock-down plasma TV screen has morphed into a leisurely retail weekend.

Indeed, two fashionable ladies of my acquaintance favoured the option of visiting a mall located just off the M5 where the Prosecco bar is as much an enticement as a two-thirds price reduction on selected items.

It seems opinions also differ within the retail trade itself as to whether Black Friday is worth all the effort.

Those who insist the event brings a net boost in takings opted to extend opening hours and spread offers over several days. Others shunned the whole thing, with Primark calling the legendary shop-fest “a big yawn”.

A factor behind this reasoning could be that the majority of people do their big item shopping via the internet.

It’s thought that sales on smartphones outstripped desktop transactions this year - a trend that brings its own set of challenges.

Of course, the idea of ordering something online is definitely appealing until you realise that you also have to write off most of your day waiting for delivery.

Russell Greenslade, chief executive of Swansea BID, points out that you can get the best of both worlds by using the ‘Click and Collect’ service with dedicated parking linked to city centre stores. Check out for details.

And finally, while we’re on the subject of special events, I’ll just mention that Small Business Saturday is 2nd December. So time to recognise the contribution small businesses make to local communities and the economy.

Use ‘em or lose ‘em, as the saying goes.

Lagoon is the best available option

According to a recent email, I stand accused of being a ‘cheerleader’ for the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon. It seems the writer took exception to how my firm joined with a hundred or so other regional businesses urging Theresa May to finally approve the scheme.

As for the cheerleader charge, readers will know that I’ve previously questioned whether a tidal energy project on such a scale is a practical step. The reality however – and whether we like it or not – is that Hinkley Point is the now the benchmark that applies in terms or cost and environmental impact.

Nearly two years ago I wrote in this column that I thought there was a deal to be done. I remain of that opinion.

Sadly, the timing and nature of that deal remains as vague as ever given that yesterday’s government white paper on industrial strategy didn’t make mention of energy production. It’s a tough life on the sidelines.


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