Howard Saunders   Jul 01, 2022   Uncategorized   0 Comment

I admit it, I’m a conspiracy theorist. But that doesn’t mean I’m wrong. The facts speak for themselves: there’s a full blown, unrepentant, brazen conspiracy to keep you indoors.

I’m not just talking about the fetish that was global governments’ lust to lock you down and keep you away from your business/gym/dying parents/park benches (delete as appropriate). No, I’m referring to a devilish brand collusion that appears to be gathering momentum.

I’m sure Jeff at Amazon was the brainchild of all this, stroking his purring pussy as he contemplated closing down the world’s bookshops, way back in the mid nineties. The swift success of his evil plan meant he simply couldn’t resist but expand it to include every goddamn thing we used to go shopping for. Then, with all that in place, and to make sure we never set foot outside again, he muscled in on Netflix territory with a plot to force us to watch Clarkson’s Farm, interrupted only by Prime deliveries.

You’d have thought that was enough, but no, a burgeoning mob of bloodthirsty brands is gathering outside your front door, brandishing pitchforks and threatening to keep us inside indefinitely. They’re dangerous but they’re also smart, so while Mum and Dad binge on Bridgerton and Cadbury’s Buttons, the kids are hiding upstairs main-lining Fortnite and Call of Duty…between Deliveroos, of course.

It seems there are very few remaining jobs that haven’t succumbed to the idleness habit that we politely refer to as WFH. Doctors, teachers, in fact the entire civil service have all learnt that they can command exactly the same salary simply by responding to emails between episodes of Inventing Anna. Work-life balance is critical to one’s mental health, after all. So once Microsoft had finally buried Skype, Zoom jumped at the opportunity to make us to feel like we were working while we lounged around in our tea-stained joggers. Only cleaners and scaffolders have to actually turn up for work now, but I’m sure there’s a plan for them too.

Corporate back-pedalling is a Peloton speciality

It’s probably safer for everyone to stay in anyway. Even going to the gym can be treacherous, what with all the diseases and muggers waiting to descend upon us. That’s where Peloton comes in. No one enjoys sterilising a sweaty exercise bike any more than they like undressing in front of fitter bods. Problem solved: a virtual exercise class is (virtually) BO and embarrassment free! will explain everything in patronising, luddite-friendly language

Staying in really is the new going out. Forward-thinking brands like will bring you state of the art technology (designed to make you ever more screen addicted) not just to your door, but they will join you indoors and set everything up for you too! No longer must you prop yourself awkwardly on one of Apple’s kiddy stools waiting to meet the genius. brings the genius to you. (Fully masked, I bet). And don’t worry about imposters. Thankfully, your Ring doorbell will store videos of every stray cat or discombobulated pigeon that wanders past your porch, for up to thirty days. It’s scary out there folks.

Ernst & Young know that listening to a human tutor is boring compared to VR porn

Perhaps more concerning is the fact that our smartest brains are in on the conspiracy. EY’s current ad campaign ‘Reframe Your Future’ gives us a glimpse of the future the boffins want us to have. The message is loud and clear: the future will be so much nicer if you just stay indoors.

Ernst & Young imagine a future for you without classmates

Lockdown gave birth to a million businesses doing their utmost to stay afloat and keep us entertained indoors. And I have to confess, I enjoyed many of them, from Rick Stein’s sensational seafood dinners, Doughnut Time’s DIY kits, Pilgrim’s fantastic frying pan pizza…so many clever brands delivering stuff and nonsense to make us feel alive and connected, and I thank them sincerely for their life affirming innovations. However, now that we’re allowed out we really should make the effort.

Pizza in a box. What will they come up with next?

Your idea of utopia might well be the Metaverse, the perfect manifestation of a future for the agoraphobic, where you can hang out with Zuckerberg’s ruggedly handsome avatar or frolic in imaginary meadows as the unicorn you truly identify as. Or perhaps you’ll choose to wander around the Nikeverse in search of a pair of virtual sneakers to protect those petit silver hooves. It’ll be just like a real Nike store, except without real people, genuine eye contact, the sense of touch, smell, taste or any sense of real time, real life significance. It’ll be a safe space, ring-fenced from the wind, the weather, untethered from the moon, the tides, the heavens and the seasons; a virtual universe built with an unintimidated passion for the future that salivates in its ignorance of the past; oblivious to truth, humour, religion, and the entire bloody history of humankind that dragged us here. In other words it’ll be Gen Z perfect.

Filthy, filthy disease ridden hordes celebrating the Jubilee

The good news is that the results of an unprecedented two year experiment to keep us indoors are now in and, I’m happy to reveal, the doomsters and naysayers failed miserably. Despite global mask mandates, a relentless, bank-bustingly expensive campaign of fear mongering, despite a billion warning signs and keep your distance stickers on every sodding paving slab (sustainable), despite desperately dour predictions from an endless array of bespectacled experts and our very own karaoke-ing leaders, despite all this we want to get out now more than ever. We were clearly willing to risk untold diseases as we rubbed shoulders with unwashed plebs and waved our Union Jacks in the Mall. And we threw caution to the wind as we gathered in our multi thousands to witness the octogenarian orgy that was Glastonbury and Hyde Park.

What more beautiful, unadulterated proof do you need that getting out is the new staying in?

Humanity always wins. Stick with it.

Thanks for reading. Now, do the right thing and follow me on Twitter @retailfuturist for daily retail musings.

About Howard Saunders

The Retail Futurist, otherwise known as Howard Saunders, is a writer and speaker whose job it is to see beyond retail’s currently choppy waters. Howard spent the first twenty five years of his career at some of London’s most renowned retail design agencies, including Fitch & Company, where he created concepts, strategies and identities for dozens of British high street brands. In 2003 he founded trend-hunting agency, Echochamber, inspiring his clients with new and innovative store designs from across the globe. Howard relocated to New York in 2012 where the energetic regeneration of Brooklyn inspired his book, Brooklynization, published in 2017. His newfound role as champion for retail’s future in our town and city centres gave rise to the title The Retail Futurist. Howard has been interviewed on numerous television and radio programs and podcasts for BBC Radio 4, BBC Scotland, the British Retail Consortium, Sky News Australia and TVNZ, New Zealand. His talks are hi-energy, jargon-free journeys that explore the exciting, if not terrifying, retail landscape that lies ahead. When not in retail mode, Howard has recorded, literally, thousands of digital music masterpieces, most of which remain, thankfully, unheard.

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