A week ago, after walking along Oxford Street in London with its abandoned department stores and thinned-out shopping crowds, I went to Harrods in Knightsbridge. Its narrow marble corridors were as clogged as ever with expensively groomed customers. As shopping for pleasure becomes less affordable, it may revert to what it was in past centuries: the elite competing for luxuries.
LONDON, 2022 — A future in which only the very wealthy can enjoy the spoils of capitalism is emerging, illustrated poignantly in Andy Beckett's Guardian column. Stagnant wages, rising inflation and weaker unions are creating "an inflationary economy dominated by corporate interests".
Change is evident in empty shelves, rising costs, abandoned retail outlets. People are stuggling to afford modern consumer lifestyles. Soon, millions may not eat or heat their homes as often as they should.
In February, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, a UK thinktank, warned that rising costs of living could lead to a 30 per cent rise in destitution (the inability to buy basic essentials) in the next financial year. Cost-of-living pressures were hitting the lowest-income households hardest, because they spend a greater proportion of income on food and fuel.