We are just recovering from a week off work; we didn’t jet off to the sun we just enjoyed not having to follow the usual routine. When I was a kid this kind of holiday was described as ‘we just went out for days’.

I was ok with this for a while until my wife used the ‘p’ word again mixed liberally with the ‘s’ word; so we spent much of the week either pottering or shopping.

Neither of these two activities seem fitting for a proper relaxing holiday but my wife feels the whole idea is rather thrilling.

In truth I didn’t find the shopping part too much of a problem because it meant we were able to work our way through our Christmas present list, something we normally leave until nearer the 25th.

There was, however, a change that had taken place that seemed to have both shoppers and shopkeepers confused; the reduction in the rate of VAT.

Most establishments had signs on the doors proudly declaring that they would pass on the saving to the customers ‘at the till’. I presume because the cost of re-labelling would have meant a price rise thus defeating the object of the exercise.

Two things were disorientating about the whole thing. Firstly, our normal ability to roughly calculate the cost of our purchases was completely ruined. You could see customers expecting to pay £12.99 instead being asked to hand over £12.72.

We don’t work with 72p in our world. We always expect to pay a number ending in 99p. I just ended up with 28p of loose to carry home and put in the tin on my bedside table.

You could hear elderly couples asking each other ‘Is that right?’ and ‘I don’t know’.

It was like going back to the days of decimalisation when we went from 12d to the shilling to 20p.

Back then we all complained that the price of chips went up for no reason and never came down again. Ever price rise was blamed on the changeover.

I am predicting the same complaints to be popularised over the next six months as we all come to terms with the 2.5% change.

Not all of this saving can be easily passed on to the consumer; car parking meters for example will have to remain the same otherwise we will have to put in 39p for the hour rather than 40p.

I suppose the same is probably true for other vending machines.

There is one type of establishment that I feel particularly sorry for during this time of customer confusion; The Pound Shops. Will they have to change their signage to read The 97.98p Shop.

The Chancellors stated intention for the reduction was to stimulate the economy. I hope it does. I fear, however, the net result will be a rise in the price of chips and more loose change in the tin on my bedside table. Mark my words!

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