COMMENT: Make do and mend could have serious implications

People of a certain age will be extremely familiar with the notion of ‘make do and mend’ – the philosophy that got Britain through the war.

Wednesday, 10th April 2019, 6:12 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th April 2019, 6:22 pm

Its companion ‘waste not, want not’ was also the mantra for a previous generation raised in an age of hardship and austerity.

Little surprise then, that though we are repeatedly told the contemporary age of austerity is over, those values have made something of a comeback.

It could be something of a rebellion against our throwaway consumer society where everything from fashion to toasters and TVs has become disposable with all the negative repercussions that has had for our environment.

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As we report today, repair shops are a growing sector of the UK economy, with the number of outlets fixing everything from phones to furniture rising by more than a third across the UK since 2010.

In Portsmouth, for example, the number was 20 in 2010 and 35 in 2018, while across the Hampshire County Council area the increase was from 180 to 240. Over the last eight years, the south east has seen a 39 per cent increase in repair businesses with outlets increasing from 1,165 in 2010 to 1,615 by 2018.

That has to be good news for the consumer who might never have even considered that an electrical item or piece of gadgetry could be repaired for less than the cost of a replacement.

Good news too for the environment, as more repairs means less waste, particularly plastic, to clog up landfill or cause harm to marine life.

But the repair revolution could cause economic upset in an economy that relies on constant sales of new items.

Could that be the reason why, for example, many modern shoes, with their polyurethane soles and heels, cannot be repaired?

As ever, the consumer holds the aces, so could we see rising demand for repairable goods?