The Times – Pity the retail butterflies soon to be crushed<br/> No one will mourn the purveyors of useless tat. But the recession will also kill off proud sellers of small shopping delights, by Janice Turner

In a spangly new Chelsea arcade I bought my mother-in-law a bathrobe. It was one of those intimate boutiques of Parisian provenance where an immaculate, pinky-ringed gent takes an age to wrap your gift: tissue paper, glossy box, origami garment folding, paper orchid placed on top just so. It was unbearably poignant, brave almost, this prissy professionalism while all around his lovely linens were discounted half-price or less. He knew he wouldn’t be here next year.

That made me so sad. Everything else she describes describes perfectly everything I despise about Bellevue (and bits of Seattle), but they’re all staffed by diffident teenagers and the untrained wives of the newly retired, nothing like that poor man with his exquisite (“professionalism”) wrapping.

By the way, Santa and I struck out yesterday evening. Downtown was packed (I knew that all the slumpers in retail sales would all show up for the day-after deals), but lord, what a lot of crap there was.