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.
Will your credit card rewards be scrapped following new EU rules on charges?
Buyers beware of new-build home headaches
What would happen if you put a statistician in a casino with £1m?
Simon Read: 'The fight must go on over equality on expat pensions'
Pension freedoms: How to deal with cold calls from scammers
- 1 I've been called an abusive and dangerous parent, when all I did was listen to my transgender child
- 2 Why this father didn’t hide his daughter’s heroin overdose in her obituary
- 3 Smartphones are making children borderline autistic, says psychiatrist
- 4 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
iJobs Money & Business
£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£50000 - £55000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Service...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Did you know? SThree is the o...
Day In a Page
This six-bedroom home is set amongst three acres of grounds. Currently a large family home, Clift Hill has potential to make a B&B, subject to change of use permissions.
A former period coach house, Glebe Farm Stable is now a three-bedroom cottage with a double car barn, office, kennels and an outbuilding that's currently used as a gym.
Set sail for this four-bedroom farmhouse in Cowes. With five acres of land and an indoor pool, this home oozes character. There is even potential to let a one-bedroom annexe.
Surrounded by woodland, this five-bedroom manor house has plenty of outdoor storage space in the form of three converted loose boxes, two smaller outhouses and a woodstore.
This four-bedroom detached home comes with a double carport, useful workshop, garden and two walkways that offer views of the adjacent countryside.
With space for an equestrian business, a greenhouse for growing your own veg, a wine store and a gym; this five-bedroom home has all the ingredients for a country retreat.
This four-bedroom home has exposed brick chimneys and a vaulted ceiling in a breakfast room that's ideal for summer entertaining - the doors open to the patio and garden.
The decked roof terrace of this two-bedroom flat is perfect for summer drinks while large windows and ample storage space make for a light and spacious interior.
Surrounded by approximately 15 acres of grounds, this six-bedroom grade II-listed home has been extensively refurbished yet retains many period features.
This four-bedroom home comes with a two-bedroom cottage and commercial office, with planning to extend, in a stunning courtyard setting.
In a pretty Norfolk village, this four-bedroom family home is surrounded by landscaped gardens, with even a self-contained annex for guests.
A few miles from the seaside at Perranporth, this four-bedroom farmhouse sits amongst nine acres of idyllic grounds - including a lake and two barns used as holiday lets.
This five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors of a converted Victorian hospital, offering spectacular views of the Pentland Hills - only three miles from the city centre.
This four-bedroom detached home comes with grounds that span to approximately 2.5 acres, as well as two large patio areas and a double garage.
This four-bedroom cottage is a Grade II-listed town house, well-located for the thriving market town of Nailsworth.
A four-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of a stunning period property in North Yorkshire, with two kitchens and a large south-west facing garden.
This high-spec two-bedroom home is part of a smart collection of new flats at Beaufort Park and has a large decked balcony that's perfect for summer drinks.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Overlooking a golf course, this six-bedroom Edwardian detached home spans four storeys and retains many period features including the original, operational servants' bells...
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
In a Grade II-listed manor just outside of Bath, this three-bedroom home is arranged on two floors with a skylight in a vaulted roof line.
Open the living room's bi-fold wooden doors to reveal a retro-style kitchen, and a conservatory leading to a paved garden at this three-bedroom home.
A Grade II-listed, four-bedroom home, in a charming Somerset village, with a two-storey studio that could be converted into a holiday cottage
A modern four-bedroom Victorian home, within walking distance to the high street
A luxury apartment in the Gothic mansion of Wyfold Court in Kingwood, offers six bedrooms spread over three floors and a turret
This school conversion, near Stockwell Tube, oozes New York loft style. The one-bedroom flat features double height ceilings and exposed brick work
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two-oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn
High Crest House covers an impressive 9384sq ft, with almost three acres of grounds including a tennis court and summer house enclosed by electric gates
A six-bedroom farmhouse with separate accommodation in converted stables. Situated in the village of Church Aston, within walking distance to the market town
A two-bedroom flat with under-heated walnut floors and bespoke built-in storage. The Tube and Clapham Common are a short stroll away
A refurbished seven-bedroom townhouse with staff quarters, cinema room, superb gym, steam room and plunge pool
A minimnalist four-bedroom home designed to the highest spec, featuring glass walls and a kitchen space lit by a glass roof
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
A boutique mews house, set around a central courtyard, with three bedrooms and a private roof terrace
A four-bedroom farm-conversion with three bathrooms and two reception rooms