Sales rip-off

I stare at amazement at all these newspapers reporting record crowds attending the Boxing Day sales, especially those mentioning Glasgow, as anyone who was there on Monday has a far different story to tell.

Argyle Street, Buchanan Street and Sauchiehall Street – the perpetual hub of Glasgow commerce – lay empty. Matters weren’t helped by ScotRail choosing to do engineering works on one of its busiest days of the year, which made many stay at home rather than undergo the rigours of the replacement bus service (even if it was free).

I encountered in St Enoch Square a manager taking a picture of a sportswear shop just as a crowd of neds wandered in. It was clear he timed the shot to make it look like the place was jam-packed.

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Elsewhere, I encountered a newspaper photographer taking pictures at the notorious Buchanan Street Underground pedestrian bottleneck, again to make it look busier than the empty street behind him betrayed.

Do newspapers and retailers think that reporting fairytales of record sales figures and bustling crowds (or, in the case of London, staging a group of Chinese tourists running through open doors) are going to send everyone rushing to the shops so as not to feel left out?

All such dishonesty leads to is greater cynicism towards both retail and the fourth estate, and politicians making decisions based around fraudulent forecasts of phantom economic upturns.

Mark Boyle

Linn Park Gardens

Johnstone, Renfrewshire