Time Flies

Remarkably – well to me anyhow – it has been almost six weeks since I last posted on here. It is not as though things haven’t been happening or that I have not been busy, it is just life has got in the way.

Possibly the biggest time eater has been the Rugby World Cup. I can’t believe it is almost four years since Wales were robbed of their rightful destiny. This time the rugby has been brilliant and frustrating in equal measures. Some great games, standard Welsh brain freezes and dubious treatment of the so-called Tier 2 nations spring to mind.

Though it had its moments from the start. Japan, South Africa, really!! England almost defying the odds and beating Wales. The Argentinians throughout. England’s early demise shows the retail consequences of sporting failure – mark down doesn’t really do justice to the glut of cheap England memorabilia around. But our local Tesco got it right from the start, and merchandised the Scottish rugby strip in the Halloween section from Day One.

During this period of silence, I have also been back to Singapore to teach and to dress up  for graduation and alumni events. it’s always great to see so many old friends and new retail graduates. Singapore itself seems to be trying to assemble the world’s largest collection of cranes and building sites and is apparently intent on turning the island into a Swiss Cheese of tunnels and MRT.

But the speed and quality of development is always deeply impressive. I spent a fascinating day off at Jurong East. I had gone to have a look at the collection of shopping centres built there – the current total is six together I believe – operating as a western hub for the country.

I ended up though fascinated by the way the centres had been inter-connected via it seemed a new hospital. Walkways rather than cars connected the centres. We did not spend a lot of time in the hospital itself, but the description was impressive – all beds with a personal window, inter-connected floors and communications and specialist and community services. What really caught my eye though was the pharmacy and the retail offer in the hospital food court.  The food court itself was branded as a Healthy Food Court. Both majored on health and well-being (obvious really) and struck me as the sort of retailing hospitals should have.

Having spent too ,much time in hospitals in Wales in recent years, I have got rather disillusioned with the frankly shocking retail offer presented to patients, their families and visitors. Fast food, sweets by the bucket load, fizzy drinks and fried products make up a generally depressing and unhealthy mix. This seems to be the norm and is sending out entirely the wrong signals about health and well being. And all at rip-off prices. I am sure there are exceptions, but they are that, when they should be the norm.

As in a number of ways, Singapore shows how it should be. Why do we have to put up with such nonsensical retail “support” for our health services?

About Leigh Sparks

I am Professor of Retail Studies at the Institute for Retail Studies, University of Stirling, where I research and teach aspects of retailing and retail supply chains, alongside various colleagues. I am Chair of Scotland's Towns Partnership. I am also a Deputy Principal of the University, with responsibility for Education and Students and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
This entry was posted in Community, Diet and Health, Food, Food Court, Health, Hospital, Pharmacy, Retailing, Shopping Centres, Singapore, Sport, University of Stirling and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Time Flies

  1. Nelson Blackley says:

    Just got around to reading this latest blogpost Leigh – and couldn’t agree with you more about the food choice for visitors in most NHS hospitals cafeterias, coffee shops, retail outlets etc.
    Given the Department of Health focus on getting everyone to eat more healthily, (not to mention the tens of £millions of public money spent by them on all sorts of public healthy eating promotional campaigns) they should at least promote the very best of “healthy foods” in the food outlets over which they have direct control (and so be seen to “walk the talk”)
    But given they still provide “smoking areas” near the entrances to most of their hospitals perhaps I am being over-optimistic!
    However, as you have recently observed, other countries seem to have grasped the basic logic of this principle and it would be good to see it adopted across all NHS facilities.

    • Leigh Sparks says:


      Thanks for the comments and observations. Agree entirely. Am told that there will be movement in Scotland on this, but my observations in Wales recently were very depressing.

      I did not comment on smoking, but you are spot on. It astonishes me, but people’s reactions when challenged on this are so at odds with ideas of health.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s