There is a common cry you hear at this time of the year, a nostalgic-fuelled bemoaning of the ever-increasing commercialisation of Christmas. So often this goes hand-in-hand with the observation that 21st century retail conglomerates launch their seasonal grab of our scarce resources earlier and earlier each year. It is worth spending a moment or two reading this advert from the Halifax Industrial Society that appeared in the Halifax Daily Courier and Guardian exactly 90 years ago today – on the 17th November 1932.
“There is a tide in the affairs of man”, proclaims the copywriter with a Shakespearian flourish, only to go on to say “Spend-Time is at Hand!”. By the 17th of November, shoppers were being urged to stock up on “every ingredient for a Happy Xmas”, a list that included Silver-Seal Margarine at 8d per lb, orange peel at 9d per lb, not to mention Sutox Shredded Suet at 10d per lb.
The children’s Christmas stockings were not safe from this advertising onslaught, either. “The Toyland of the Town” would be located on the ground floor of the Northgate store. “The “Early Bird” Proverb is particularly applicable this Yuletide”, warns the advert, “owing to a scarcity of certain items”.
And why not crown your Christmas shopping expedition by ordering a sack of “Best Yorkshire Coal” – a bargain at just 1/11d. I’ve ordered a couple of sacks already – you can never plan too early for Christmas.