The ‘Dumbing Down’ of Britain

The other day, on the way to the gym, I ventured into an Asda supermarket to purchased a well-known energy drink (it was before 6am and I frequently find myself in need of a wake me up at that time of the morning). Thinking that I might save myself a few pennies by ‘buying in bulk’ I looked at the largest pack they sell (a case of 12). These were priced at £11.69 so a little over 97p a can I worked out in my head.

I had just tucked the aforementioned pack under my arm when I noticed they were selling six packs for just £4 or roughly 67p a can. Needless to say I replaced the 12 and paid just £8 for the same number of cans in two bundles.

As I continued on my journey, I began to wonder: Can the British public really be that mathematically inept that they can’t work out that 12 for £11.69 is a poorer deal that £4 for 6? I came to the conclusion that the manager of the Asda in question (it was the Burgh Heath branch if you’re a caffeine junky in search of a bargain yourself) had merely made a mistake and was treating his/her customers as idiots.

Then today I saw this posted on Twitter:


Now I can only think of three reasons why the owner or manager of this shop had this sign printed:

1. He/she doesn’t believe his/her customers know how to divide by two;

2. He/she thinks that his/her customers don’t know what 1/2 price actually means;

3. His/her staff don’t know either of the above and need a ‘crib sheet’ handy to work out how much to ring up on the till.

So I’ve changed my mind. I think the Asda manager was treating his/her customers as idiots as is the manager who had that sign printed (Does anyone recognise the font?) I have real concerns for future generations if they don’t have enough basic numeracy skills to know if they are being deceived.

Memories Are Made of This!


I found this picture posted on Twitter today (by @happymem0r1es). Sadly it isn’t dated but my best guess is that it is circa 1973. I base this on my recollection that most sweets were 6d when we decimalised in 1971. Those ‘of a certain age’ will know that six old pence transformed to two and a half new pence so most of the confectionery in the picture appears to have suffered a rise of one halfpenny! Hence my guess of 1973.

So this morning I did a totally unscientific survey and purchased those in the picture that are still available. I managed to get the following:

A very small Milky Way for 25p;
A Mars Bar for 69p;
A Twix for 60p;
A Marathon (now called a ‘Snicker’ of course) also for 69p.

Whatever happened to Treets and Spangles?

I mentioned the size of the Milky Way specifically because it was at least half the size of the one in the photograph. The others though we’re all obviously smaller too but by not at all on the same scale.

So when I got home this evening I thought I might try and work out if sweets are still the bargain that they appeared to be when looking at 1970s’ prices. This turned out to be an impossible task as I can’t estimate the weight of the items in the picture or find reliable inflation figures to work on from that long ago. Suffice to say, as an example, the Snicker has gone up over 8% per annum if it were the same weight (which it clearly isn’t). I’m fairly sure inflation has hit over 8% in the last 40 years but absolutely convinced it hasn’t averaged that!

I can recall that in the early 70s I was working in a stationers for 4 shillings (later 20p) an hour. Based on that I could almost afford 7 Marathon Bars for every hour I worked. Are school children paid nearly £5 an hour now if they get a Saturday job in a shop? They probably are.