‘Shop out to help out’ – am I causing more harm than good?

Photo by: Monika Laimaite

King’s Cross retailers are calling out Londoners to ‘shop out to help out’ during the Christmas to support London’s retail community.

Over 30 retail brands from across King’s Cross and Coal Drops Yard have united to launch the campaign United We Shop to encourage Londoners to ‘shop physically’ in the crucial run-up to Christmas.

Despite months of lockdowns and forced closures, December 2020 is going to be more important than ever, with retailers hoping to capture two months of Christmas shopping in three weeks.

In addition, retail brands in King’s Cross and Coal Drops Yard will be hosting exclusive offers including up to 40% off selected items for purchases made in-store. Does this ring a bell?

Coal Drops Yard | Photo by: Monika Laimaite

The government-funded Eat Out To Help Out scheme came to an end on 31 August, with many deeming the programme a success in terms of motivating people to socialise again as well as encouraging the recovery of the hospitality sector, which was heavily impacted by the pandemic.

With the exception of a few successful independent restaurants, it was mainly the big national chains that do not prioritise sustainable, local produce and do not align with the government’s anti-obesity drive, that were able to afford the scheme.

Most importantly, it was not the government’s money that has paid for all of this. It is ours, the tax-payers. Was spending £522 million on EOTHO scheme the best way to save the crippling hospitality industry?

Happy faces and awaited socialising aside, numbers of COVID-19 cases suggest that Eat Out To Help Out scheme might have caused a major outbreak in the long run.

The number of new coronavirus cases in the United Kingdom had experienced a steady increase ever since the EOTHO scheme was introduced.

Graph by: Monika Laimaite

Are you asking what EOTHO scheme has to do with the current campaign encouraging people to shop physically before Christmas? One word – consumerism.

We all love discounts. After Eat Out To Help Out scheme fashion retailers felt overlooked compared with the hospitality industry regarding government support, which encouraged them to request a similar initiative.

One of Britain’s most original designers, Tom Dixon said: “The pandemic impacted everyone. […] So get away from your screens and get out and about back into the real world, where you belong.”

As well as a major risk of increasing COVID-19 cases, the United We Shop campaign might increase wasteful and unconscious consumerism.

While beloved brands including Nike, Manifesto, Paul Smith, Samsung and Tom Dixon offer up to 40% selected items while shopping in-store, many will find themselves falling for sales and over “indulging.”

With the national lockdown being lifted and only a few weeks left to Christmas, people are keener on leaving homes to do Christmas shopping in a rush. This can result in big queues and many shoppers, which would not allow social-distancing to happen.

But what will be an actual cost of going ‘out and about’ while the country is still under the shadow of coronavirus? Can the United We Shop campaign have a similar result to EOTHO scheme?

Does this mean we’ll start the new year in a third national lockdown?

Words: Monika Laimaite | Subbing: Sam Tabahriti

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