The Crazy Rise of Couch Shopping and Why We Need to Get Up and Go Out Again

Last Updated: June 15, 2024By

The Crazy Rise of Couch Shopping and Why We Need to Get Up and Go Out Again


Hey there! Have you ever thought about how much more we shop now that we can do it all from our cozy couches? It’s kind of wild, right? We’ve ditched the bus rides into town, the escalators, and the chit-chat with sales assistants. Now, with just a tap of a finger, we can have stuff delivered right to our doorsteps. No more tired legs from carrying shopping bags, no more muzak playing in the background, just the sweet convenience of online shopping.

But here’s the kicker: even though it’s super easy, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Imagine if technology had made us buy only what we needed. Just think – a quick click for some black mascara and navy socks, and done. No more temptations like fluffy sweaters or cute mugs. It would’ve been like a magic pill for shopaholics, helping us stick to what we need and saving the planet. Sure, physical shops would still be hurting, but at least we’d be healthier consumers.


The Sad Tale of Empty Shops

Take a walk down Oxford Circus in London. Remember the big Topshop where girls used to scream for Kate Moss? It’s still boarded up, even after Ikea bought it years ago. And just down the road, the 130-year-old Fenwick department store on New Bond Street closed for good. It feels like a ghost town with empty stores where Gap and Paperchase used to be.

We’re all buying more clothes than ever. The average person in the UK buys 28 pieces of clothing a year! Even those who say they want better quality still go for the cheaper options. With the future looking so uncertain, why spend more now? Just get the cheap stuff and deal with it later, right?


The Truth About Returns

Think returning stuff makes it okay? Not really. Only about 50% of returned clothes get resold. The rest? They end up in landfills. We’ve become bad at shopping wisely, tricked by good lighting into buying poorly made clothes that look great on screens but not in real life. And let’s not forget the workers – now stuck in warehouses with worse pay and conditions than when they worked in stores.

Time for a Comeback: Real Shopping Trips

But there’s hope! Maybe it’s time for actual shops to make a comeback. Albaray, a small fashion brand, started online in 2021 and opened a physical store in 2023. Karen Peacock, one of the founders, said they chose a store in Chichester because it felt lively and had a good crowd. People were thrilled to see a new clothing store instead of more nail salons or coffee shops.

Shopping is More Than Just Buying

Some of the best shopping trips aren’t about what you buy. Like that Saturday in Miss Selfridge’s changing room with friends, hyping each other up for a party. Or the time I saw Princess Diana buying tights in Harvey Nichols. Those moments are priceless.

The Magic of Selfridges

Harry Gordon Selfridge knew this when he opened his London store in 1909. He turned shopping into a spectacle with a shooting range and ice rink on the roof. His Christmas window displays were like art shows. This year, Selfridges offered life-drawing classes and skateboarding lessons for Valentine’s Day. Some experiences just can’t be bought online.

So, maybe it’s time to put on a coat and head out to the shops. There’s a whole world out there that’s worth the trip.

Further Reading

  • Shopping, Seduction & Mr Selfridge by Lindy Woodhead (Profile, £10.99)
  • The Ladies’ Paradise by Émile Zola (Penguin, £8.99)
  • The Department Store by Jan Whitaker (Thames and Hudson, £36)

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