When I started writing The Unhappy Shopper yesterday, I toyed with the idea of suggesting that if women smokers didn’t get to go out and meet people, they’d stop buying clothes, shoes, lipstick, hairspray, and so on. But then I thought: Not being a woman, I don’t know this for sure, and it would be speculative to suggest it, so best not. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so reticent. Because several of the comments said exactly this:
A woman friend told me she hasn’t bought an actual dress since the ban. Why bother? she said. (Walt)
Same here. (Rose – in response to Walt)
No new clothes, no hair do’s,, no make up, no pubs/clubs/restaurnts/cafes etc., no holidays, no taxis. No shopping as I just go out for food essentials and shop online for household necessities. (Brenda)
Given that, in the UK with its 13 million smokers, there must be hundreds of thousands of women (maybe even millions) who are not buying clothes, shoes, makeup, etc, that must be quite a hole in the profits of garment and shoe and pharma industries.
Furthermore, since women smokers are no longer going out to meet up with non-smoking friends, that’ll almost certainly mean that non-smoking women are buying less stuff too.
And maybe I’m wrong, but an awful lot of high street shops are selling stuff to women. This was rammed home to me once when I was in Fukuoka about 5 years ago, and wandering round a huge shopping mall looking for men’s clothes. In the end, I stopped in one of the numerous ladies’ clothes shops and asked where to go. They got out a huge map showing the whole complex with its 200 or so shops, and they marked on it the locations of men’s shops. There were just four of them. Sure that was Japan, and it was a bit extreme, but Britain doesn’t seem to be all that different. Women spend much more on clothes and stuff than men do.
And everyone will be travelling less (except to go to Greece or Spain or as far away as possible and spend their money there), driving less, and catching trains and buses and taxis less.
even the mass-transit system suffered since I wasn’t buying tokens to ferry me back and forth so often. (Michael McFadden)
And in my case (which is a bit unusual maybe) I don’t watch TV, or listen to the radio, or buy newspapers. I may as well be living in a foreign country for the attention I pay the mass media.
I was intrigued by what Jax had to say of her non-smoking partner.
My OH – previously (and unusually for a bloke) very much the shopaholic of the two of us – now can’t be bothered to go shop-mooching any more, not even on his own, and says that it just isn’t the fun it used to be. And he’s never smoked a day in his life.
The same applies to social events and going out in the evening. Neither I nor he can be bothered any more – things have just lost their sparkle since the smoking ban. And again, my non-smoking OH has said (unprompted by me, I hasten to add) exactly the same thing. So, like Brenda, I have saved an enormous amount of money since the ban (far more, incidentally, than I actually spend on cigarettes, even though I’m now smoking more of them). And I’m just one person. Imagine if you multiply that by around 10-12 million people!
Imagine indeed. But I think that for non-smokers it must be a different experience. I feel that I’ve been expelled from society, but non-smokers can’t feel like that, because they haven’t been. Maybe it’s that, with many of the smokers staying home, their lives have been getting a bit emptier too. They walk into a pub, and they no longer see half the people in there that they used to know. There must be a slight chill to it all.
And you also have to bear in mind that it’s not just smokers who are Unwelcome in our Brave New World. So are drinkers. And so are fat people (which is more or less everybody, since the definition of obesity changes every year). I bet there are quite a few of them who’re just staying home too.
All in all, it must add up to a huge amount of money that’s not being spent. And, as far as I can see, it’s not as if the money gets spent elsewhere. It’s not as if I buy thousands of books and CDs and computer games instead of all the things I would’ve bought. Nor is it that I buy take-away pizzas or chinese meals, or watch videos. Nor do I drink that much whisky. Instead I seem to spend much of my time online reading free content (or writing it). And even though I spend hours online I hardly ever buy anything online.
In fact, I’m getting to be a veritable tightwad. I mostly buy food and won’t buy any more until it’s all eaten. Even if I don’t really like it. I won’t buy any more bread until the last loaf has been completely consumed, even if it’s rock hard. I shop for bargains. Yet it’s not because I need too. I’ve begun to hate throwing anything away. I’d rather invent a new dish that contains sour cream and quarter courgettes and stale breadcrumbs than throw them away. I never used to be like that.
Who knows, perhaps when the economy is really deep in depression, and all the pubs and restaurants and theatres have closed, and nobody goes anywhere, all Britain will need really will be a few windmills to supply the trickle of electricity needed to make another cup of tea every few hours (that is, if tea hasn’t been banned too) before going back to bed.
Late addition from the comments:
I thought that it was only me that no longer took pleasure in going out anywhere except friends’ homes. I hardly buy new clothes anymore, or go to the hairdresser’s (I do my own hair now), or spend any significant amount of money at restaurants. I do everything out of necessity in an in and out kind of way. (Iro Cyr)