I had to be in a very big shopping complex in Bondi this morning and started feeling unpleasantly disoriented. The visual busyness, the bright lights and colours, the noise, the flashing ads, but above all, the vast expanses of dazzling floor that were not flat. It wasn’t a bumpy floor but a floor that gradually changed gradient at certain junctions (not my imagination!). In the lift an older man with his arm in a sling told me that it was the second time he had broken his arm in this shopping centre falling onto the floor.
Shopping centres need to change their ways. These high stimulation methods might have worked to make consumers spend more in the 1980’s but we are way more savvy now and these devices are just an irritation and a health hazard.
In Canberra in a Woolworths supermarket I spotted a sign that said “Quiet Hour”. I had to move a box of nappies to see that it runs from 10.30 – 11.30. It was 10.29 am. I waited 5 minutes but nothing changed. If I’d removed another box of nappies I would have seen that it’s Tuesdays only. I asked a passing store assistant what Quiet Hour meant. “They turn the lights down for an hour” she answered brightly. “Is that it?” I asked, listing a few other things that they might do. “No, just this. But it does seem to make people quieten down. It’s a start anyway!”. No, I thought, it’s mere tokenism!! My daughter told me later it’s probably for autistic customers. Woolworths’ can tick a box – “supporting people with special needs”.
Oh for a quiet place where I can shop in peace, with no overlay of artificial excitement, where I can take my time, where no shop assistants hassle me …. Wait! …. there IS such a place …. online shopping Watch out Westfield – change or die!