Opinion: Why the John Lewis Christmas catalogue dropping through our letterboxes mocks Sheffield

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Somewhere in John Lewis, a marketing department decided it would be a good idea to send thousands of copies of the Christmas catalogue to Sheffield homes – after closing the city store and making 299 people redundant.

At first it seemed like an ignorant mistake and Sheffield was just part of a national mailout.

But wait, these catalogues were specially made for Sheffield shoppers because inside was an apology.

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“We’re sorry your local shop had to close but we can still help make Christmas magical”. With directions about how to shop online to really mock us.

Inside the John Lewis Christmas catalogue is an apology and directions of how to shop onlineInside the John Lewis Christmas catalogue is an apology and directions of how to shop online
Inside the John Lewis Christmas catalogue is an apology and directions of how to shop online

I suspect Christmas won’t be magical for the staff still looking for work.

It was audacious to send out these catalogues because John Lewis wasn’t just another department store which closed, it was embroiled in an agreement with the council involving taxpayers’ money.

John Lewis broke a 20-year lease it had signed with the council just six months before it announced the closure.

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The council bought the building last summer and offered to pay for renovations with a low rent to secure the big name brand.

John Lewis Christmas catalogue.John Lewis Christmas catalogue.
John Lewis Christmas catalogue.

Instead, the store withdrew and protracted negotiations about breaking the agreement are ongoing – which is why glossy photos of models drinking champagne sticks in the throat.

And what of the building which is left, dear to our hearts as it was the landmark Cole Brothers.

John Lewis still holds the lease so it will remain silent, dark and looming, like the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.

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The council plans to fling up a few fairy lights around Barkers Pool but even that sounds exasperating as it needs permission from “various partners and agencies”.

If we want to make Christmas magical this year, let’s put money into the pockets of Sheffield retailers. These people have struggled through a pandemic yet are still devoted to their business and their city.

Find an independent bricks and mortar shop or if you prefer online, browse Sheffield websites. Spend your money with your local traders in district shopping centres. Remember those who home delivered, worked all hours and were your lifeline throughout the lockdowns.

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