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The Perishable Pundit Visits South Africa
Dispatch II: London To Cape Town

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, August 29, 2006

The stay for a half a day in Heathrow was uneventful as was the flight to Cape Town. There was a similarity to be noted, however. In Heathrow, there was this enormous shopping arcade, yet the most telling message is how homogenous retailing has become.

For the most part, the stores were identical to those we find in shopping malls in the United States. In those cases where the store name was different, the product was the same — same brands, same items. Only Harrods was the holdout, so far having resisted efforts to open in New York or elsewhere.

Equally with the flight. I pulled out the menu to search for something unique — something British (I was on British Airways) or something South African. But there was nothing.

Even when I landed in Cape Town, filled with excitement and anticipation, I have to confess if I didn’t know where I was going, I would have said the terminal fit right in Antwerp or Amsterdam. The first site in the terminal was through a glass to a large room below and, to let me know I had arrived in Africa, I was greeted by signs with names like Hertz, Avis, Budget, and other well known rent-a-car companies.

I am not certain what to make of the homogeneity of modern life. In a sense, it tells us how similar we are and that concepts that appeal to consumers one place are likely to appeal to others.

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