Do you shout at the news?

I do and I did this morning when John Humphries on BBC R4 announced how many high street shops close per day…

I say this in the context of my day just gone.

In the morning I played golf with Tom and I won. (As I write this post, he is having a lesson). Then I had to accompany him to our local shops to visit a phone shop because my name is on his contract as it probably goes back to his Billy Elliot days. Tom is currently at the baseball hat level of fame and thankfully, well short of the permanent sunglasses phase. In the phone shop, we quickly discover that being discreet is not so easy when exerts from Spier-Man Homecoming are being played on massive screens across the store. It was funny and we had a laugh and then we went over to John Lewis because he needs a fridge.

Pretty big range. We busy ourselves with our non expert assessment – namely, how easily do the doors open and close.

We narrow it down to two and finally Tom makes his choice. Good to go.

And here is my point and the point that I explained to Tom.

John Lewis and EE served us well. We enjoyed being out. It was fun having a mooch. It was nice being able to see the fridges and make our own comparisons.

Now I am sure that this same fridge is available on-line and cheaper. And given the JL slogan about never being undersold, I could probably whilst in their store, using their wifi, find a cheaper deal and then demand that they match it.

But I didn’t, you will be happy to read.

Too many people these days, use shops as nothing more than showrooms. Cynics might accuse me here. That Tom is well able to afford the high street prices and other people, more strapped need to shop around. Forgive me, but I just don’t buy this. Last Christmas, buying Paddy a bike, I only ever visited my local and independent bike store, Bright Cycles, New Malden.

We get what we deserve and since shopping is our nations religion, then going, our shops will go the way of our churches if we continue to migrate our lives on-line.

Not that I am so virtuous or I haven’t embraced technology. I bank online, I rarely send letters by mail, I read, write and sell ebooks…

But when M&S is closing its stores in certain towns, doesn’t this sound the death knell of a shopping district? And as high streets fill up with charity shops and Bookies, we all lament technology and the progress it brings?

And finally, our politicians are no help either. They make parking difficult for the high street and easy for the big multiples with their acreage of free parking – and they impose the lunacy that is business rates on shops. This is not a tax on profits, they do this as well of course – business rates is a tax on having a business. A tax for having the gumption, the balls and the energy to establish a business. A tax for doing something that might create, jobs, not to mention improving our society and communities. A tax before anything is ever sold or any profit made.

A tax so neatly avoided by the on-line retailers – no wonder they can be cheaper.

Business rates have finally been addressed by politicians – but all way too late.

Politicians always talk of jobs that they create. The reality is that they create no jobs at all. Jobs are created by individuals and in-spite of politicians.

This Christmas, support your local shops. Enjoy having a mooch. Interacting with the staff. Being pleased to bump in to a neighbour or someone you know. These experiences enrich us and they don’t happen when browsing on-line.

And here endeth the lesson.