We’re glad we’re able to be the Grinch shouting Bah Humbug - to mix stories - this joyful season. For there is much public wailing about how the High Street is dying, concern over how a couple of centuries’ worth of retail technology is being superseded. Yes, excellent, isn’t it, this is how old technologies die:
Britain’s crisis-wracked retailers have seen almost £20bn wiped off their value in a devastating year as markets brace for a tough Christmas that could cause more high street casualties in the new year.
Fears of another torrid festive period for the sector have mounted in recent weeks after gloomy warnings from high street stalwarts and Asos, the online fashion giant. The total market capitalisation of UK retailers has plunged 29pc to £49bn in 2018 with Debenhams, Asos and Carpetright enduring the heaviest losses.
The joy here being not this decline of the old, rather what it means. Which is that we’ve now got some better technology, obviously enough the online one, to produce those retail services we desire. As we flock to that new and more desirable the old fades away.
The true joy being that this is all self-regulating. It doesn’t require a planner to manage it, directives and instructions from the omniscient aren’t needed. As the new technology proves itself then capital is directed toward the money that can be made in that manner. And the old system sees first those capital values declining, then the willingness of anyone to put more or new capital into that method. We thus gain exactly what is desired, a redirection of capital to the new manner and away from the old, simply through the combination of human greed and the price system.
This general structure being what produces for us in the rich countries, this general idea of free markets and capitalism, the groaning tables piled high with food that Tiny Tim thought such a wonder just the one day of the year. Which is a cheering thought isn’t it? We’ve lucked into a system which achieves Roy Wood’s desire, that it really is Christmas everyday.
If we could only get Noddy off the sound systems and radio the Grinch really would be defeated.