2 MAY 1931, Page 19


[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.] SIR,—Like many other members of the greater public who are neither manufacturers nor shopkeepers. I have been following with interest the war which certain retailers have been waging on coupon gift schemes.

What puzzles me is whether there is any real need for a war at all. It depends entirely on whether those shopkeepers are right who allege that people receiving free gifts in exchange for coupons thereupon refuse to spend in shops money which they otherwise would have spent.

Is that a fact ? In the first place a proportion (I myself should say a very large proportion) of those who get gifts in exchange for coupons look upon them just ELS windfalls— luxuries which they would never have dreamed of buying. When, on the other hand, the gift is something which would have been bought, had it not been obtained free, money is available for spending in other directions. A man and wife need, say, a tea set badly, and they would also like a new clock if they could afford it ; if they are able to get the tea set in exchange for coupons, then they buy the clock.

It will be answered that, if these suggestions of mine are accurate, they only show that gift schemes are not doing the shopkeeper any harm. But what of the wages of those who are making gifts (said, I notice, to be of the annual value of 13,000,090) for the schemes ? Are not these wages increasing the purchasing power of the nation ? I am sure that shop- keepers would rather see workers drawing wages than the dole.