Monday, August 29, 2016

Ponters Pensées: 29.8.16

Spanish Nationality: The relatives of Jews expelled from Spain in 1492 and after - the Sefardis - have been offered a fast-track process, as belated compensation - I guess - for this astonishingly stupid, self-damaging measure. So far, only 2,624 have taken this up. But I've no idea what this is as a percentage of those entitled. Pretty small, I suspect.

PreConquest MexicoThis looks like an interesting development.

The EU Commission and its PrinciplesHere's another gem from Don Quijones, this time on the subject of a planned EU-wide 'Google tax'. This, incidentally, has been an abject failure here in Spain. The Commission, says DQ, has shown once again that it has learnt absolutely nothing from the Brexit experience. It continues to legislate with no consideration for the public interest, serving the exclusive interests of the most powerful lobby groups in Brussels, while continuing to say one thing in public and doing the exact opposite in private. In other words, it’s business as usual in Brussels. The Commission, DQ stresses, seems determined to make itself even more unpopular among Europe’s disaffected public - just at a time when a rash of popular referendums and make-or-break national elections is about to be held in countries across the old continent. Here's Christopher Booker on much the same subject - the incompetence of the EU technocrats and political leaders. Do GB Remainers really discount this? Or just accept it as no worse than national government??

Theists: One of the problems with these is that they often give each other a bad name. So it was with the 'Christian' who essentially blamed Tom Daley's failure in the Olympic diving competition on his being gay. Oddly, this didn't impede the British team - which contained a married lesbian couple - from winning the hockey gold. But, strange indeed are the ways of the Lord. Here's another example:-

But it's not all bad news . . . Norway's evangelical Lutheran Church has launched a website to make it easier to track members -- a site that also allowed them to opt out of the Church altogether -- more than 15,000 people chose to leave for good. (And that's just in the first week.) I wonder when the Catholic Church will, if ever, stop counting we lapsed folk as members of the '2 billion global membership', simply because we were once baptised without our knowledge or consent.

Languages in the UK: So, which - after English - is the second most widely spoken language there? Well, Polish, of course. The Poles - who are universally admired in the UK- have just overtaken Bangladeshis as the highest foreign community, so this is very understandable. That said, Polish speakers amount to only 1% of the population. So, why is everything published by the NHS in 12 languages, you might ask.

Our Simian Heritage: This is a fascinating, 'Swiftish' treatise by Clarence Day on our origins, lamenting the fact we didn't evolve from, say, cats or elephants. It's funny, thought-provoking and highly prescient for 1920. You can get it from Gutenberg as an ebook.

Pontevedra's Retail Scene: I continue to fail to really understand this. Here are 2 more recently closed shops, this time directly opposite the checkouts in a Carrefour hypermarket in the mall at the bottom of our hill:-

Delayed reaction from El Crisis? Money laundering places that didn't work out?

Finally . . .  Amazon Spain. Having slightly cracked the screen on my kindle, I checked about repair and read eulogies about the company regularly handing out free replacement products. In other countries at least. You can get them to call you in the USA, the UK, Germany and France - inter alia - but not (yet) in Spain. Where, in addition, the site seems not to recognise the problem of a broken or cracked screen. One wonders why not. Anyone had a better experience?


Sierra said...

Carrefour Pontevedra seems to reflect the situation here in Lugo - even their own restaurant has been closed and replaced with a small coffee bar. Think the main-stream supermarkets -Carrefour, Eroski - are suffering the same fate as Tesco, Sainsbury, Asda, etc., in UK - competition from Lidl/Aldi at the budget end, and Waitrose at the premium.

Colin Davies said...

Yes, but these are independent shops. That said, you are almost certainly right that traffic into and out of Carrefour has much reduced. As they richly deserved . . .

Robert said...

Most Spanish shops, especially independent retailers offer mediocre quality goods at unattractive prices. They have been defying gravity for too long and three factors are now bringing hard economic reality home.

Firstly, leaving aside outright unemployment, average earning power in Spain amongst the employed has stalled and declined since 2008 due to ruthless wage depression. The businesses that have reacted and benefited from this are the "value-for-money" businesses that you mention, for example Lidl - building 40 new super markets in Spain in 2016 alone.

The second factor is that internet commerce is slowly taking hold in Spain and showing people quite what poor value and quality they have received from their local independent shops. Only six years ago in Madrid I struggled to get decent speed internet installed (€70 per month from Telefonica) and no other options. Now I have super fast internet at €18 per month and can choose from at least 6 suppliers. Similarly in 2010 buying on the internet was hit and miss in Madrid, mostly miss. Now Amazon UK and Boots deliver to my door in 48 hours. This is all part of a wider shift in consumer behaviour across the developed world - how often have we seen articles in the 'decline of the UK high street'?

Thirdly, Spain has a profound problem with demographic decline that it is simply not addressing - like most problems it faces. It has massive youth migration and a suicidally low birth rate. Each year more and more of Spain's population enters the demographic cohorts of the retired, whose purchasing power and purchasing need are low. You can't survive as a jewelers (shop in the picture) without plenty of people buying, for example, engagement rings, and that requires a bulging demographic cohort between about ages 18 and 35, when statistically the majority of the population get married.

Independent shops in Spain need to adapt to the reality of a country that (despite what the silly economic propaganda says) will be in semi-permanent economic and demographic decline as a new normal condition, or until the Eurozone ends. They need to be high quality but also value-for-money boutique shops (luxury for less), or shops that cater to the needs of older consumers - both of those will be growth areas.

Maria said...

When that jeweler closes a shop, you know the mall is in deep trouble. In Ribeira at the Hiper Gadis that jeweler is one of the last shops standing, apart from a sweets shop and a clothing store that doesn't seem to see many customers. I haven't been to Area Central in ages, where that jeweler also has a branch, but whenever I do go I'll be sure to check and see. With all the shoppers who have migrated to As Cancelas thanks to the free parking, I would be surprised to see it still open. I suppose it has survived till now because it has reasonable prices on small pieces people still give at Communions and other occasions.

Colin Davies said...

Thansk, again, Richard for taking the trouble to send this clearly informed opinion.

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