So today I went shopping, for the first time in 13 months. I know that might seem standard given the year we have all had, but I didn’t even go when we could between the various lockdowns. Through a combination of being extra careful because I was pregnant and wanting to be generally sensible and keep to the essentials, I hadn’t shopped recreationally for well over a year. I had popped in to shop here and there to make a return, or pick up a click and collect but I also hadn’t wanted to shop. I found the whole experience uncomfortable, people too close, people not wearing masks, just people full stop!
Today I actually enjoyed it. I wandered. I had a coffee. I browsed and talked to random strangers and shop assistants. I tried shoes on. It was busy but not packed and felt gloriously (sort of) normal. I could do without the mask wearing (I hope its inspiring a new level of respect in people for those in jobs and professions who wear them all day to keep people safe,) as it does detract from the experience and I cant wait to be able to stop and sit down somewhere for lunch, (I was in The Trafford Centre so no indoor dining,) but over all I enjoyed it. Most importantly I came home feeling so much lighter, happier.
I know everyone has struggled through the pandemic (and I’m not suggesting it’s all over,) for many different reasons but I certainly felt I had been relatively unaffected, and was coping well. But as we started to unlock I’ve found myself feeling flat or even down at times as the promised freedom hasn’t been quite as good as expected. A lot of things still haven’t changed. It’s still really cold for outdoor socialising. And sometimes I don’t even know what to do anymore because we haven’t done anything for so long. What did we used to do when we could go anywhere or see anyone we liked whenever we wanted? I think I hadn’t realised how much of a toll 24/7 parenting 2, then 3 kids has taken on me. Not just the actual parenting itself but the lack of time NOT parenting. It’s not a unique circumstance by any means but Pete and I haven’t spent a date night away from our home and children together since 7th March 2020. It has been relentless and left very little time for us, for me. These hours to myself today were restorative. I had time and patience for the girls this evening and found the energy to joke and laugh over dinner even when they were reaching peak tiredness and awkwardness – if you know you know.
Although I enjoyed going to the shops I didn’t actually do a great deal of ‘shopping’. I had returns to make and a few things I wanted to buy in person but I think my consumer behaviour has changed so much I wonder if I will use the shops in the same way in future. If I’ll ever go back to shopping the way I used to? I don’t think it’s just Covid that has changed my behaviour but a combination of factors amplified by lockdown. Supporting small and independent brands has become important to me and through following several of them on social media I’ve become way more conscious of the impact my consumer habits have on the world. I’ve learned about ethical production and sustainable fabrics. The idea of buying once and buying well. I’ve developed a distaste for fast fashion and all the ethical and environmental issues that go with it. Now I think about where my clothes come from, what they are made of, who made them, packed them and how they are delivered*. Even if a product ticks all of the right boxes, will I even have anywhere to wear it? Does it fit my lifestyle now? Do I ever want to wear heels again?! I find myself browsing mailing list catalogues and although I want many of the featured items I’m really hesitant to buy them as I just don’t need more ‘stuff’, so I’m haven’t really substituted in-person shopping for shopping online either. I have even found myself thinking about making one or two pieces that perfectly fit the bill of what I want to wear, instead of buying several that aren’t quite what I was looking for and getting minimal wear out of them.
All of these changes can only be a good thing but I can’t help but wonder if everyone felt like this and consequently changed their shopping habits there would be a huge section of the retail industry and and its workers out of a job.
There’s no denying that today was a good day. Clearly it left me thinking though. How are you feeling about the shops reopening? Have you changed your shopping habits? Maybe you feel similarly about restaurants and now prefer to cook at home (I’m sure that person must be out there?!) I’d love to hear how you’re all finding it, shopping and unlocking… Feel free to comment here or pop over to my Instagram post with the same photo and leave a comment there if its easier. As always I love to hear your thoughts.
*I am by no means a saint when it comes to shopping but I am trying to make better choices and buy less items, more responsibly; learning all the time.