It will not come as news to readers that the past few weeks have witnessed an economic crisis on a scale unprecedented since the 1930s, and that the distributive trades have been and will continue to be — along with the housewife — in the forefront of the firing line. It has been a crisis packed with incident: genuine difficulties have no sooner been confronted than they have been succeeded by illusory problems fed by self‐generating panic and the more irresponsible jeremiads of the popular national press. Events have moved with startling rapidity, into and out of major industrial disputes, a general election campaign, and the behind‐the‐scenes manoeuvring of establishment forces. Faced with the editorial responsibility of interpreting these events, RDM as a bi‐monthly is inevitably handicapped by a production period which must be long enough to do justice to a journal of substance. What we have tried to do in the feature which follows is to give the distributive trades' viewpoint on the events of the past few weeks, to make some distinction between the chronic problem and the temporary difficulty, and to offer a few cautious forecasts on some of the long‐term questions which emerge. Certainly anomalies have abounded. We are told that a number of items are in short supply, yet by and large supermarket shelves remain well stocked. There is a petrol shortage, and the price of petrol has gone up, yet cars still crowd the streets. There may be bad times just around the corner, yet the man on the Clapham omnibus still continues to buy consumer durables and to plan his next holiday. Perhaps, though, we have all ignored the warning signs for too long, and this time the problem will not just go away.
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