How to shop like a good human
There’s an upside to not having my kids at Christmas.
And that’s buying twice as much stuff in the Boxing day sales.
But that also comes with a massive downside.
And that’s buying twice as much stuff in the Boxing day sales.
Churchill square, Brighton.
The shopping centre that offers the staple diet of stuff for the average UK consumer.
Or ‘Fucking Hell’ as I like to call it.
I whisper this to myself all the time while working my way through it’s bowels.
I am the son of a pessimistic salesman, I’ve worked in product design, advertising, marketing, and have done my fair share of shop floor work.
Much like Neo when he sees the Matrix for what it is, my brain sees the shopping experience broken down into a series of strategic marketing decisions in which consumers are ranked, ordered and labelled according to their behaviour patterns, earnings, even their sexual partners.
I find shopping centres genuinely disturbing. The signs, lights, noise and shuffling human blockages, make me short of breath and fuzzy headed.
But Churchill Square does provide all I need to get in and get out.
I have a mission.
The kids and I did a scout on our last weekend together.
Managed the whole thing in 27 minutes flat.
And so, with photos of their fat little hands holding various tat to fetch, I set off at what I thought was early.
A few rogue humans wandered past, but not enough to block the path I already planned out in my head.
I had ventured outside the day before.
A bizarre experience as absolutely no one was in town.
Everything was closed.
The bins overflowed with the packaging from their stuff.
The stuff they were likely giving and receiving with families on this one day in the year when the humans are truly allowed to rest from their job – shopping.
While they seemingly slumbered in their homes, I sped into Claire’s.
Target market: Girls, 12 – 20, average spend of £10, travel by bus, watch Strictly, listen to Little Mix, own a pet, wishes it were a unicorn.
Immediately I am bamboozled by the Sales offer.
‘By 3, get 3 free on all Claire’s range products.’
This was a tough one to decypher in this noisy silver and pink plastic fluff den.
Fortunately the shop keeper recognised I was not there for myself, and helped me identify the unicorn whirlwind keyring.
On to the next place.
The boy’s present.
“I want something that works for more than one day” I ask the shop assistant.
On a side note – my dad used to call places like airports ‘Captive markets’.
This means that the humans cannot go anywhere else, so you can charge what you like.
I wonder how much money a wandering drone makes the shops and restaurants in an airport with no flights taking off?
Last on the list is brown wrapping paper, apparently the patterned stuff is not recyclable.
Insane considering how much we must use each year! Shopping without conscience is a marketers favourite way.
The drifting humans are easier to predict and manipulate.
On more than one occasion, I heard one member of a flock ask ‘where are we going?’
I usually enjoy this as a mantra.
Follow your feet, let spontaneity choose your path.
But to do so in a shopping centre can only result in wandering around a bunch of stuff I can’t have, or stuff I thought I wanted until I got it, and realised it’s meh.
This is a steady pattern I have identified.
Want, buy, meh.
The barking marketers will have these passive drifters conveyor belted into scanning situations through elevators, carefully placed racks of stuff, signs, red labels and shelf wobblers (yes that is a thing).
We’ve all seen Derren Brown steering folk into saying and doing things - this is pretty much the same.
Anyone who has played a computer game that controls a population will have an idea of how it works. (Theme Park or The Sims).
We are as predictable as a simulated version of ourselves, we go into a shop, we go clockwise.
Fresh fruit is placed at the start of our grocery shop to give the impression we are in a wholesome environment with healthy food.
Mcdonalds will put pictures of hessian sacks, grass, and carrots to ease our brains into the horrifying Mcshit we are about to digest.
I was given a token for Mcdonalds after buying stuff at WHsmiths.
They must have a thing going on.
Out of Smiths and into Maccy dees.
Not me mate.
I’d spent too long in WHSmiths.
Churchill square was heaving with the drudging masses.
They must have been taking it easy after Christmas day.
The humans are back.
Back to work.
Trudging through the aisles, laden with bags and push chairs, cladded in Superdry.
Some kid is singing baby shark. Not my kid, can’t tell it to shutup.
Fucking hell! HMV still exists!
I had to find out what it is they were selling.
DVDs and CDs.
It’s nearly 2019, and people haven’t worked out that these plastic relics are obsolete?
I guess the Churchill square crew still dig it.
Both ends of the isle are blocked.
The drifting humans are taking over.
I have to move fast, or I may become one of them.
Fucking hell, get me home.
Oooh, a shoe shop.
Mine have holes in, and I fancy treating myself.
A customer talks to the manager, they know each other.
“Not too busy this year!”
“Yeah, was packed last year. I think people have less to spend.”
He seemed down about this, and for a moment I thought he may be commentating on the poverty stricken social climate.
Perhaps some wise insight on the incline of homelessness, how the government are squeezing everything out of the people and planet before the inevitable collapse of consumerism.
“…We should be alright though. Usually picks up in January sales.”
And there you have it.
We’ll be alright.
Unlike the day before.
When we didn’t shop.
When we spent time with loved ones, ate, drank and slept as we wished.
It’s all ok now.
The humans are back spending that money they earn by working so hard in jobs they don’t enjoy doing.
I suppose I should put a relevant message at the end of this blog.
We make live gaming experiences.
This is something that is not made from the Earth’s raw materials, nor does it involve shipping and storing goods from one place to the next, there is no waste from it’s disposal, it will not break the next day.
In fact it will last forever.
As well as some stuff, my kids will enjoy laser tag and the cinema.
Then next year I will ask them what they remember getting.