As consumers, we can broadly divide what we spend our hard-earned cash on into two categories; essentials and indulgences.
So as most of us do in this world, let’s start with the fun one, indulgences.
An indulgence could be defined as something enjoyable, yet ideally not taken to excess – whether for health, financial or other reasons. So we’re talking donuts, tasty meals out, holidays, designer clothes and Molton Brown soap. Other things as well, of course.
Then there are the essentials – bread, milk, shelter, a glass of red on a Friday evening (??), transportation of sorts and an all-too-long list of other bits and pieces.
Within this long list, several sneaky non-essentials have infiltrated their way in in recent years. Unlike hot water and toilet roll and frying pans they bring no benefit to our survival as human beings. They’re irritating inconveniences as far as most of us busy folk are concerned.
It’s therefore a triumph of commercialism that on February 14th, countless blokes will run into their nearest supermarket. They’re not there to get milk, even if they’re out, but to get a Valentine’s card before they get home.
With 12 months’ notice they don’t even manage the 13th to give it to their other halves on Valentine’s morning. They miss the funkypigeon.com deadline, followed by the extended Moonpig one (now at 7pm for same-day despatch). With their Nectar card data, Sainsbury’s are fully-prepared for a massive spike in sales of wilting roses, over-priced chocolates and garish cards around 6pm on the 14th. (Fake news alert – but it sounds about right).
The same thing happens around March 26th (Mother’s Day – heads up – not long now!). The Mother’s Day seed is sewn by Clinton Cards basically the day after Valentine’s. Things lie low for a while, buried in the back of our minds. Yet as sure as mixed metaphor eggs are eggs, by mid-March these seeds turn to shoots of anxiety.
Mere days later, anxiety grows into urgency, growing unabated. Most of us don’t wake up in same bed as our Mums of course, which makes it even more challenging – we need to sort it the day before! On March 25th the prospect of guilt and bad-books becomes unbearable.
We also need to consider flowers of course – we’ll perhaps spend £35 online for some pleasant-ish looking purple ones which match her cushions, and view £8.99 for next day delivery as mere pennies. Like being being out with mates at 2am on a Sunday morning, the value of money moves to a whole new level.
Yes, we may be out of milk and toilet roll as we buy our card in evening darkness. These though, are irrelevant indulgences compared to a Mother’s Day card – the most essential consumer item those sneaky guilt-tripping business people have ever created.