Retail must be at the heart of any survey into the nation’s well-being, says Jacqueline Gold
As I write this column the country is snowed in, the Republic of Ireland has gone bust with economists predicting that the euro itself will similarly implode, the BBC has done its best to scupper the English World Cup bid and simultaneously take billions out of UK economy by questioning Fifa’s integrity, and Ann Widdecombe has inexplicably lasted 10 weeks on Strictly Come Dancing.
You could be forgiven for wondering whether the whole world has gone mad. At least Wagner was voted off The X Factor.
I swear I used to make the exact same Delia dishes decades ago back when I first bought Elton’s classic. Maybe with all the threatened strikes and Bruce Forsyth hosting the BBC’s flagship Saturday night show, the world hasn’t gone insane - we’ve simply entered a Life On Mars-style time warp back to the 1970s.
Confused? I am. Not least by the fact that we can’t seem to agree on whether our biggest online shopping day of the year is called Cyber Monday, Mega Monday or Manic Monday. All of which are quite terrible monikers for one of the brightest days in our retail calendar: time to get our marketing teams on the case and come up with something better I think.
That said of course, with warehouse and logistics staff stuck in the snow and people holed up at home ordering even more, our colleagues responsible for order fulfilment and in turn those in customer services answering calls from concerned customers are all going to be mega manic over the next couple of weeks.
Record online sales aside, the other thing making me smile this week was the announcement that the Government is going to measure how happy we all are. I shall of course be putting myself forward to be part of their advisory panel ahead of next spring’s national well-being survey, not least because it doesn’t look like they’re planning to ask us about our sex lives.
After 30-odd years as a pleasure retailer, we know from our research that Ann Summers customers are happier than those who don’t shop with us. They have better sex lives too.
These two facts are not unrelated. Warm fuzzy feelings aside, we should as an industry make sure that retail is at the heart of this survey. Despite our best efforts at Ann Summers, shopping is still the nation’s favourite past time and it’s frequently the interactions and experiences that we have in-store that can often make, or occasionally break, our day.
The joy of finding that perfect dress in your size, the thrill of unearthing an incredible bargain amid the mayhem of the new year Sales or the deep satisfaction you get when you receive outstanding customer service must surely be part of what defines our personal and collective happiness. That’s why it’s called retail therapy.
Jacqueline Gold is chief executive of Ann Summers