There has been a wealth of excellent contenders for the Well Done, Sherlock! award, awarded for outstanding performance in stating the bleeding obvious. And, as usual, it has been a difficult decision to choose between candidates who have all done very well.
In the field of economic policy, we've had The Institute of Fiscal Studies advising us that spending cuts and tax rises will affect poorer people most. The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission in Washington has established that the credit crunch and ensuing recession was caused by failures in financial regulation, breakdowns in corporate governance, excessive borrowing and risk, and breaches in accountability and ethics. Ah so, it wasn't the bad weather then. The consumer association Which? has discovered that staff in electrical goods shops (such as Comet and Currys) often lack basic knowledge about the stuff they are selling. The Royal Zoological Society has affirmed that tyrannosaurus rex was a predator and survived by hunting as well as scavenging (so that's what all those teeth are for!).
But the winner of the Well Done, Sherlock! award this time around goes to Alan Penn, director of the Virtual Reality Centre for the Built Environment at University College London (UCL) for noticing that IKEA stores are arranged in such a way that as you walk round you are enticed to buy stuff you hadn't set out to buy.
"You have to follow a set path past what is effectively their catalogue in physical form," he said. "By the time you get to the warehouse where you can actually buy the stool or whatever's caught your eye, you're so impressed by how cheap it is that you end up getting it. You're directed through their marketplace area where a staggering amount of purchases are impulse buys, things like lightbulbs or a cheap casserole that you weren't planning on getting. The trick is that because the lay-out is so confusing you know you won't be able to go back and get it later, so you pop it in your trolley as you go past."
I thought at first that as this was reported in the Daily Mail it might have been made up by one of their ace reporters but it's flagged up on the UCL site so it must be true - IKEA lay out their shops to stimulate impulse buys. Well Done, Sherlock!
[Special mention for Elton John who has noticed that Cheryl Cole, The Saturdays, Girls Aloud and their ilk are all crap.]