Consuming Issues: What the future holds for the consumer of tomorrow
Saturday 09 January 2010
For almost 40 years, viewers of Tomorrow's World were given tantalising glimpses of the future. From pocket calculators to cash machines, CDs to supermarket barcodes, the programme showcased the extraordinary advances in technology that have transformed the way we live. (Other advances have been less influential: generally Britons do not eat soya instead of meat, or whizz round in Sinclair C5s.) The BBC show left our television screens in 2003, and though I may not have the same foresight of Tomorrow's World, I have tried to imagine how we may be shopping in the next 10 years...
The decade leading up to 2020 has been dominated by technology, but also, increasingly, by the environment. Half of all shopping is done online and "e-tailers" influence many high-street sales.
Traditional "bricks and mortar" shops have moved away from their role as browsing depots and have become entertainment centres, offering a spiritual, practical and cultural experience – as well as physical goods.
Concerts, talks and tutoring have replaced much of the shelving, with motivational coaches holding forth on stages in department stores, hypermarket chefs giving demonstrations on how to cook, and fishmongers offering trips on trawlers.
Tesco, still Britain's biggest retailer, accounts for 48 per cent of sales, but, like a handful of other retail behemoths, has become a "one-stop life shop", offering a no-need-to-shop-anywhere-else range of food, clothing, rental property, mortgages, current accounts and gas and electricity.
Consumers interact with Tesco and these other "whole-life providers" by speaking into visual pods dotted around the home – called hubs – where "one-stop shop" internet concierges pop up to arrange delivery of flowers, an alteration of direct debits, or other services such as the calling of a boiler engineer.
As these multi-purpose retailers have grown, small independent butchers and bakers have slid further into high-street history, with newsagents in particular disappearing en masse, damaged by falling newspaper and tobacco income.
In the ongoing hand-held gadget revolution, mobile devices are used routinely for everyday transactions, with internet banking and the booking of restaurants and cinemas online now considered the norm rather than the exception. Arts fans can also download whatever song, book or film they want, though it's not theirs to keep – it vanishes after a set period due to digital rights management.
Many of the entrepreneurs that run the websites that dazzle home audiences are still at school or in FE colleges, running multi-million pound empires from playgrounds and bedrooms because they have been forced to continue their studies.
On the environment, increasingly frantic steps to limit climate change manifest themselves in every corner of our lives.
By 2020, all individuals are watching how they can stay under their annual carbon allowance. The carbon value of every product over £50 is recorded on a central Enviro Ministry database. Along with the recording of every commercial transaction in a near-cashless world on the Central Police database, this continues to raise concerns about privacy and the balance of power between citizens and state.
Air travel has doubled in price due to higher eco taxation – the introduction of kerosene taxation, carbon pricing and higher air passenger duty. Destinations such as Australia's Great Barrier Reef have started to appear on "must-see-before-they-disappear" lists in glossy magazines, and are touted by a new brand of aggressive eco travel agents.
Electric and hybrid cars are more common, but, much to the irritation of green groups, they still represent fewer than one in three new models sold. Petrol engines have become 30 per cent more efficient.
The average energy bill has hit £2,000, inflated by rising global demand for diminishing fossil fuels and the cost of paying for new renewable energy. The impact, however, has been partly offset by higher levels of energy efficiency in homes, which are visited by door-to-door efficiency squads paid commission by the Government; wasting energy has become almost as anti-social as drink-driving.
Respected names such as Marks & Spencer and John Lewis have thrived in the new era, due to their promise of durable and ethical goods and services. But other established businesses have disappeared, just like Woolworths did a decade ago.
As wealth divisions have increased in society, there are more shops in central London, Manchester and Edinburgh that cater to rich shoppers, guarded by bodyguards, at one side of the store, and have budget ranges of products with dubious health and environmental value at the other end.
Independent Partners: See how much you could save by switching credit cards. Compare now
interviewThe producer and activist, whose film 'Filth' is up for five British Independent Film awards, is tapping into the industry's neglected female talent
Black Sabbath have pulled off one of rock music’s great comebacks – against all odds
Theatre's hitmaker Daniel Evans on 'Oliver' and bringing 'The Full Monty' to the stage
Her estate has become the nation's glossiest food empire
Michelin-starred Tom Sellers on being this year's hottest property
Parents (and kids) rejoice! A new wave of fantastic family entertainment is here
Holly Williams joins the staff at the online grocer Ocado ahead of the last-minute Christmas-food rush at the firm's mammoth warehouse
Some time in the 1980s, when I was not much older than my own children are now, I wrote a letter to Gerald Durrell, sparked by reading My Family and Other Animals, his celebrated memoir about growing up on Corfu. At the time, I could only loosely have been described as an animal lover, but the wit of Durrell's writing and his brilliant descriptions of spiders, beetles and strawberry-pink villas captivated me.
The best thing about Christmas is that you can live like there is no tomorrow. You can spend more money than you have, drink more than you should and not worry about what you're eating, because you know that in January the penance will come and you will pay for it all with diets both fiscal and calorific.
Simon Read: Readers think I should cough up and pay for a tradesman's travelling time
No television licence leads to debt woes after court fines add up
Mark Dampier: Small can be beautiful for those investors who think long term
Tax boost for social investment will unlock £500m
Five ways to make money on the internet
- 1 Hundreds arrested as Canadian police smash worldwide paedophile ring
- 2 Is this the scariest advert ever? Japanese tyre commercial comes with its own disclaimer and health warning
- 3 Sherlock series 3: Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman provide teasers for the biggest comeback in British television
- 4 A forgotten episode in Russian history leaves links with the Philippines
- 5 People will try to reduce Mandela to a lilting reggae tune about ‘love’. They will fail
- < Previous
- Next >
iJobs Money & Business
£80000 - £100000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Harrington Starr: Project Manag...
£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Harrington Starr: Business Analy...
£30000 - £40000 per annum + Bonus and Benefits: Harrington Starr: A global Con...
£150 - £250 per day: Cornwallis Elt : iPhone Rollout- Blackberry Enginee...
Day In a Page
A three-bedroom Grade II-listed mews house with vaulted ceilings and roof garden
A spacious Grade II-listed family home with annexe and equestrian facilities among four acres of land in Itchingfield
A four-bedroom home with exposed brick walls and open fires in the picturesque village of Northill
A Grade II-listed property with five bedrooms and unique tower, overlooking Hastings Old Town
A charming five-bedroom detached family home, set within half an acre in Kew
A two-bedroom maisonette set on the top two floors of a period building, close to Kentish Town Tube.
Take advantage of the extra space provided by former stables and outbuildings at this five-bedroom farmhouse.
This three-bedroom Victorian terrace is near to Queen’s Road Peckham station, Nunhead station.
A five-bedroom modern house with terrace, swimming pool, Zen treehouse and large carp pond
An unexpected gem with four bedrooms, remarkable vaulted reception and a galleried study area
A five-bedroom house in one of Lymington's most sought after tree lined avenues, moments from the marinas and sailing clubs
A grand early 19th century B&B close to the historic harbour, with four en suite bedrooms
A four-bedroom, 17th century home with walled gardens, a landscaped terrace, cellar and open fires
A six-bedroom house with five bathrooms and four reception rooms spread over 4,000sq ft of luxury living space
A stunning three double-bedroom apartment with two decked terraces in the exclusive gated community, Bromyard House
A 10-bedroom period, family home amid beautiful surroundings in the centre of the Wentworth Estate in Longcross village
A stylish three-bedroom apartment with two bathrooms and private landscaped garden, moments from Fitzroy Square
A Grade II-listed Elizabethan barn with landscaped gardens, exposed elm beams and four bedrooms, all with lovely views
A six-bedroom family home, dating back to 1280 with four reception rooms, barn, swimming pool and tennis courts in Harwell
A spacious two-bedroom flat, refurbished to a very high standard with private landscaped garden, close to Kentish Town station
An exceptional two-bedroom apartment with balcony and underground parking in the centre of Richmond
A one-bedroom, luxury, duplex apartment in the grand landmark building, Imperial Hall
Run a fabulous boutique shop, live above it in a one-bedroom flat and let a second one-bedroom flat that comes part and parcel
A Grade-II listed, thatched cottage in Hundleby village, with five bedrooms, a coach house and three and a half acres
A spacious two-bedroom flat in the heart of Hoxton Square with wooden floors and roof terrace
A five-bedroom family home with stunning pool and gym complex set among two acres of land
A six-bedroom period house with heated swimming pool and a separate two-bedroom annexe cottage in Townlake, £795,000
A spacious and contemporary two-bedroom flat arranged over three floors, with garden patio close to St George Square, £600,000
A one-bedroom flat in a beautiful Regency building opposite the beach in Kemp Town, £190,000
A two-bedroom flat with London skyline views close to Surrey Quays. £395,000.
A seven-storey tower with three bedrooms and a stunning roof terrace. Guide price: £850,000.
A 16-bedroom country pile with nine reception rooms, four self-contained flats and a 13th century Peel Tower. £850,000.
A classic six-bedroom Victorian Manse house 10 miles from Edinburgh. £495,000.
John Lennon's childhood home in Liverpool to be sold at auction. Guide price: £150,000-£250,000.
A six-bedroom detached period property with secluded gardens, ample parking and a double garage in Rye, £675,000.
A large split-level property with three double-bedrooms and roof terrace, close to Crouch End Broadway, £625,000.
A charming barn conversion in the picturesque Cotswold village of Ilmington with three bedrooms, a detached garage, workshop and beautifully manicured gardens £675,000.
A three-bedroom new build, ground-floor flat with two bathrooms, close to Bermondsey tube, £445,000.
A three-bedroom house in an enviable new development moments from Oxshott High Street, with secluded garden and decked area, £385,000
A two-bedroom split-level flat with stunning south-west facing roof terrace in the popular Brondesbury Conservation Area, £549,950.
A charming 16th century, three-bedroom detached house in Bidborough with picturesque garden