Thursday, 17 May 2018

The Way We Shop

I hadn't realised how long it had been since I last posted on here <hangs head shamefully> and apologies that my first post on here in a while is a wordy one - but I was watching the breakfast news this morning and they were reporting on the story about Mothercare and it got my brain ticking so much so I felt compelled to come on here and jot.

50 Mothercare shops are to close, with the potential loss of 800 jobs. Something the newsreader said made me question everything I (possibly naively) thought about the retail world.   The example related to expectant parents choosing a pushchair - they go in to the physical store, garner the knowledge and expertise of the staff, test out the pushchair, wheel it around for a bit, see if it fits in their car and then leave empty handed and purchase it from another retailer online that doesn't have a bricks and mortar shop...

It shocked me. I knew people did it, but hearing it still made me pause mid porridge mouthful and stare at the TV. It dawned on me the enormity these actions were now having.

The change in peoples shopping habits over the last few years seems to now be physically manifesting itself on our High Streets/Town Centres and there's no doubt it is going to change the face of retail forever, possibly irrevocably, and I'm interested to know what the long term impact of this might be.  Could those who've never shopped like this soon be indirectly forced to shop this way by the actions of the majority?

 A million thoughts and questions are now whirring round my head and I'm struggling to make sense of it all...  Are shops now transitioning in to 'showrooms'?  A place where people 'try before they buy'?  Does everyone shop this way now? Is it generational? What will the future of the high street and the towns they are in look like? Will we miss the shops if they go or are they now surplus to requirement? etc etc etc

I've always been a 'physical shopper' - I love the whole shopping experience; the atmosphere, the social interaction, and let's be honest, the instant gratification and thrill of walking out of a shop with a bag of goodies. On the other hand, I also completely understand the convenience of buying online.  In our time pressured lives we don't always have the luxury of 'browsing'.  Our schedules are hectic and physically going in to a shop in town can take 10 times as long as clicking a button.  But then you have to wonder whether receiving the knowledge of an expert and road testing something before you buy it means in the long run it is worth taking the time to visit the retailer and buy it from them. If they weren't there, what would you do?

Something I notice in my day to day 'shop life' is that although a town centre doesn't solely revolve around shops, cafes and restaurants, these places provide an invaluable asset to the community as a whole.  For some people, going in to a shop is sometimes the only social interaction they may get on a regular basis.  Similarly, for many of those who work in retail, they choose to do it because they love face to face human contact. They love passing on their knowledge and helping people make a decision that's right for them. What a sad world we would live in if we were to lose this.

I am hopeful that we will never get to a point where towns only have empty shops, but this change in direction certainly makes me worry that we might be heading the wrong way down a one way street. 


Your response to my Instagram Stories poll has been enlightening, thank you!

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