Monday, 14 November 2011

the enjoyment of shopping?

As i was on the train returning home from London this weekend, i really got thinking about the 'enjoyment of shopping'. Is it even there anymore? Or is the happiness that shopping can bring a thing of the past? What with growing figures in the online shopping industry, is shopping no longer something we look forward to, but something we would do anything to avoid?

Arriving on Oxford Street Sunday morning, shops didn't even open until as late as 12:30 due to outdated Sunday trading laws. The likes of Selfridges, House of Fraser and Primark already had crowds of around 50 people waiting outside the doors ready to stampede in, to which we joined the Primark crowd, which opened its doors as 11:30, for half an hours browsing time.

I have been to London a fair few times, and first hand experienced Primark, Oxford Street, where-as my mum hasn't. A Saturday afternoon in Primark Oxford Street is like a war zone, not something to be taken lightly. However i stupidly assumed that going to Primark on a Sunday, just as doors opened would be less of an experience.

This makes my first point, the fact that planning had to be taken into consideration just to go into a clothing store. Whatever happened to 'oh i fancy nipping into Primark today' unless you are mentally prepared for the heat, stress and amount of people in London's Primark, you cannot just fancy nipping in.

Nearing 11:30 the crowd outside Primark grew larger, and eventually the fully kitted out security guard opened the doors. The immediate sense of rushing was comparable to a herd of animals, and the grabbing of baskets was so aggressive i had to look twice to check they were actually just baskets. All while this was happening, the security guards where shouting at the top of their voices "ensure mobile phones and valuables are in safe zipped pockets""keep bags closed at all times" "do not leave bags on the floor at any point". I just thought to myself, this isn't an enjoyable shopping experience, this is like a fucking army exercise.

In a shop in my local Westfields, if i saw something i liked, I'd probably compare a few sizes, look properly at the shape, look at the price, and then take it to try on. Oh no Primark Oxford Street is a whole different ball game. If you see something you like, it is a race to find any size that could possibly fit, and then it is thrown straight into the basket and you then quickly move on to find anything else you even remotely like the look of.

It took us 30 minutes of dashing around to fill our basket, and get into the already formed queue at the check out, that weren't even open to use yet. 10 to 12 the cashiers were ready at their desk, and there was a man in Primark uniform at the front of the queue who was just giving out orders. 5 to 12 and shoppers had been sent to cashiers and emptied their basket on the desk. The second it turned 12 the man at the front of the queue shouted "SERVE" and all the cashiers jumped and started scanning as if their life depended on it. All the while me and my mum were just looking at each other as if to say, what the fuck is going on.

We spent around £80 in 30 minutes, and after that ordeal, i could tell my mum couldn't wait to leave. We left the store feeling stressed, sweaty, and quite frankly relieved to be out. Going shopping is supposed to leave you feeling uplifted, and a sense of happiness that you brought something for yourself or others, those feelings where the last things we thought of.

Primark is notorious for being comparable to a war zone, so i assumed these brutal security guards were only in place on those conditions. But as we went into selfridges there were security guards on the doors there too, and i thought that was pretty reasonable, a hardcore thief could steal millions of pounds worth of items from a place like selfridges, but a thief in Primark? what would they actually achieve? A few tops that'll rip in a few weeks, some jewelry that will snap to pieces tomorrow? But then as we went in more and more shops along the strip, all of them had security guards on the door. From newlook to accessorize to Marks and Spenser's, they all had one. A security guard on the door of a high street shop is hardly inviting is it, and considering the large percentage of foreigners on Oxford street each day, its hardly an impressive representation of the country either.

Shopping used to be an exciting experience, something to look forward to, a treat. I just about do still enjoy shopping, but if i could only online shop or shop in stores for the rest of my life, i would happily choose online, every time.

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