I’m saying goodbye to the highstreet
I haven’t had a good experience with high-street shopping for a long, long time….
I remember watching Mary Portas: Queen of Shops and it would bitterly remind me of all the times I have sweated profusely along Oxford Street asking desperately for more sizes of a dress, and told abruptly: “if you can’t see it, we don’t have it” whilst spotting said garment on a smug mannequin, obviously looking a lot better in it as it skims over her freakishly narrow fibreglass hips. Most of the time, I don’t have a great time when I’m shopping. I pretend to, but I don’t. The music is annoyingly nightclub-esque. In fact the whole experience reminds me of being in a nightclub: queuing, sweating and bumping into people.
I also hate lugging shopping home on the tube, your new items crumpling beneath someone’s foot as they squish down next to you. For me there is no redeeming quality to high-street shopping. I don’t get a buzz when I nab a sale, unless it is done so from my bed. I love receiving packages that are delivered to me instead and being able to try everything on in my OWN mirror. I genuinely believe that many a mirror in high-street store changing rooms are either suspiciously flattering, or very unflattering, and either way my main way of deciding is by sending a friend a selfie.
There’s been many times I’ve braved the shop and been told the item is out of stock so I need to go online to order it. So, on a dark and drizzly Sunday afternoon, the day before (insert important occasion here), I am being told I need to go back to the exact the location I departed from (my sofa), to order something I’ve so optimistically trekked across town for. If I had not spent money tackling London’s transport system, the item would theoretically be half price by now. Sheepishly ordering said item from my drained iPhone on the way home definitely has a stinging sense of irony and frustration about it. Why. Did. I. Bother.
Us savvy internet shoppers have over-active inboxes with subscriptions and alerts coming of our ears. Whenever I log on to my laptop, I am inundated with offers; being ushered left right and centre towards delightful deals, bargains, bloggers giving readers discounts, free trials, testers, and what’s more, I’m being wooed by the prospect of such things arriving at my front door and, to think it couldn’t get any better: gift-wrapped. In comparison, when I think ‘high street’, I think: full price and slow card-readers. Once you’re used to your ‘click-to-buy’ button, anything else is just plain annoying.
‘Sales’ used to be something that would only pop up at specific times of the year, with shops brandishing loud red banners across their glass doors, encouraging you to robotically browse the sale-rails even though nothing is of interest. This is what I don’t get about “Black Friday” or “Cyber Monday” it’s making us buy pointless shit we don’t need. I know because it’s happened too many times. I buy something I don’t need, and then I end up trying to flog it on Ebay because a) it’s taking up space and does nothing useful for me and b) because I feel guilty and excessive. It used to be a mad rush on Boxing Day as everyone would dive in headfirst into a money-saving mosh-pit, stocking up on discounted wrapping paper that would do nicely for next year. However, with the introduction of sites such as LivingSocial, Groupon, Twongo and Dealster, who are willing to give us these discounts and offers all year round (and in the comfort of our own home), it feels harder than ever to summon the physical energy to fight off our fellow retail-obsessed rivals in a small over-heated shop. The online sale-rails we are browsing are not limited or left over stock — they now contain everything. ‘Searching’ doesn’t mean digging in a bin of odd socks; it now means going into the depths of Google.
Influencers are also changing. We’re not just flicking through monthly magazines for fashion inspiration, we are cruising the infinite blogosphere for ideas. Real-time updates from real people. We can filter out our personal preferences and look at what is affordable in terms of our own budget. Online blogs are easy to dip in and out of, not to mention giving us the immediacy of being able to click a link at the end of the post straight to purchase. I love finding new clothes inspo through Instagram (with their new “shop” button on its way) — and tools such as DRESSR helps that habit. Fashion bloggers are not only filling the front rows of high-end fashion shows, but they are also making a killing by selling their own merchandise through their personal sites. So many are now selling successfully through their ‘shop’ tab on their blogs, allowing readers to engage directly with them and easily replicate their style.
When it comes down to it, I am really just talking about the high street. If I’m going to buy “on trend” items, I will definitely do it online (or via Instagram shopping) and not cart myself around a sweaty shop with hundreds of people in. When I go to any independent shop, or a vintage store or some totally unique I do really enjoy the experience. Even when I’m in Beyond Retro (even though I’m aware it is a massive chain) because at least I feel like I’m finding a gem and I’ll have to buy it there and then. Browsing without feeling rushed is really fun — but rare. I love dipping into shops in different European cities down cobbled lanes. Supporting independent outlets feels good.
Sadly I feel the high-street has nothing to offer me anymore. At least in person. What do you think? Are we starting consider the high street to be a place to grab a coffee but certainly not a shopping trolley? Like with most things, I’d rather do it from my laptop.
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