Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

How the pandemic altered shopping patterns

The pandemic has changed many things about our lives, including the way we shop. Before, we were able to wander aimlessly through aisles, list in hand looking for the things we wanted. Nowadays, we just scroll through items an algorithm has figured out we would like. As we begin our journey out of lockdown, it has led many to questions, such as if shopping in-store is even worth it if we have access to the same products and more online.

When the pandemic hit, online shopping became the default way to shop as there were no other options. Many of us may have even found comfort in online shopping over the past year, as waiting for packages to arrive may have been one of the only things we’ve had to look forward to lately. The thrill of opening packages cannot be denied, the act of wiping it down and marvelling at the new thing you have acquired has become an almost daily activity. If it’s been a tough day, remembering that something nice is arriving for you soon can really brighten up an otherwise awful day.

Shopping in-store has an added social aspect

No one can doubt the convenience of online shopping: you can search for whatever you want, and every item even remotely similar to what you searched for will appear in a nice, ordered list. Can’t find something in store? It’ll be available online in every size or colour you could possibly imagine. With endless promotional codes and sales at our disposal, it’s arguably harder to not online shop. Furthermore, options such as next day and even same-day delivery make online shopping all the more tempting if you know you can order something at 8 am and have it at your door by 8 pm.

However, despite the convenience of shopping online, it lacks the same excitement of walking through a store and discovering new things. Shopping in-store has an added social aspect which makes it more appealing. Planning a trip with your friends and helping each other find new things, or shopping alone and thinking ‘my friend would like that’ at every cute item you see.

It feels like there is a greater degree of choice when it comes to shopping in person, you’re able to scan the aisles yourself and possibly discover and decide to try something new. It feels a lot more active and gives you a sense of control that you otherwise don’t have with online shopping since you can physically see what you are buying.

Perhaps the queues outside of Primark are less about the clothing

There’s been an emerging discussion around the long queues that have been pictured once stores reopened with many questioning if it’s worth it. At first glance it may appear ridiculous, ‘just buy it online’ and similar statements have been made towards avid shoppers. However, by dismissing these crowds as foolish, it ignores the fact that we’ve all been locked inside for over a year with nowhere to go and nothing to do. Our options were limited to supermarkets and B&M, and as much as these stores are great, the novelty can wear off pretty quickly.

As humans, we desire excitement, so when suddenly life starts to look the same every day, we begin to crave something different. Perhaps the queues outside of Primark are less about the clothing items and more about the option to go to a store. Online shopping, is still readily available, but if it’s not your only option then why must you be shamed into doing it? For many people, the choice to shop in-store is a way of regaining control over their lives which have changed dramatically in the past year.

There is still a big shift towards returning back to normal

Deciding that you will leave the house of your own free will is not something that we have been able to exercise as much, so, the chance to have some normality again is something that many are desperate for. Even if you disagree and still shop online, it should be acknowledged that you have chosen to shop online, you are still in control of what you prefer to do.

It’s perfectly fine to have anxieties surrounding shopping in-store again, there is still a big shift towards returning back to normal, and it can take some time to adjust to. It’s really up to you to figure out what you’re comfortable with doing, but also, if you see people queueing up, it wouldn’t hurt to try and understand how they’re feeling as well. Ultimately, we are all going through this pandemic together, so if people are ‘desperate’ to get back in-store, it’s understandable why.

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