Saturday, 10 September 2011

In defence of shopping

I know I'm meant to like Suzanne Moore, everyone else on the internet seems to (and back in the day, when we used to read the New Statesmen for A level Sociology, she was one of the few women writing for it and I did use to like her writing.) There's just something insufferably smug and sweeping statement leader-writer about her. This article is a prime example. "I don't like shopping so nobody else does." Ahem.

I LOVE SHOPPING. IT IS A HOBBY. There's nothing wrong in that. I don't always buy things. I don't buy things I can't afford. I don't inflict my shopping hobby on anyone else - I don't know why you'd drag your poor boyfriend or your poor kids around the shops, it's a recipe for stress and arguments.

(I am, however, a brilliant shopping companion, and will patiently hold your coat and bags outside the changing rooms and offer advice and find sizes for you. I will put my own shopping desires aside when I'm shopping with someone else, you can't look for two people at once, this shit takes focus. )

I love beautiful big department stores. Selfridges is the best, though it is a bit overwhelming. I love boutique ones like Liberty and Fenwicks, with exotic perfumes and cutting edge designers and exquisite shoes. I also love skanky charity shops, and truffling out old Penguins with great covers for 30p. My Pucci outfit came from a chazza. (It has now been taken to the designer re-sale shop.) I like street markets and farmers markets and flea markets. I like the convenience of chain shops in a high street. I like browsing, and sometimes I like buying.

I can't go into the West End anymore because the hoards of people drive me insane. Which is why I'm delighted that the mainstream chain stores are coming to us in Stratford.

Suzanne lives in Stoke Newington, which has a lovely high street with all the boutiques and organic niche supermarkets you could wish for. But the rest of East London doesn't have any choice in shopping, Stratford High Street is dire, so either people have to drive out to Bluewater (which she so despises) or drag themselves into the West End and fight the hoardes.

"Is this what this deprived area really needs?" she asks. What, parity with the rest of London? Is that a bad thing?

You should see Bromley by Bow high street Suzanne, it looks like it's been looted and derelict and burnt out post-riots, but it has always been like that. Ask our kids if they'd prefer to shop there or in the new Westfield.

Shopping isn't the be-all and end-all, but people should be able to choose, and why should only the middle class areas get all the choices?



  1. PS I don't like food shopping. It's boring.

  2. Go Annie! You tell it like it is for us shoppers everywhere. Meanwhiles I'm off to join the fray on the grauniad online....

  3. Just read some of those comments. God the anti-consumerists are a joyless, sanctimonious lot aren't they?

  4. "What, parity with the rest of London? Is that a bad thing?"

    I understand the good citizens of Finchley are well narked because they didn't get their fair share of rioting.

  5. PS - maybe that is because you are vegetarian.

    This is a thought provoking post.I always buy things. I often buy things I can't afford. I hate accompanying other shoppers and increasingly I am starting to dislike shopping entirely thanks to panic about my finances. Maybe my attitude is entirely wrong.

  6. GSE - Teehee! No, I'd find shopping for MEAT just as boring.

    Yes, I know in times when I've been broke, for example when I was unemployed, it's not a fun thing (clearly) but then I've not gone shopping for fun at those times. I can stay away from shops for long periods of time & not miss it, which is why those moaning about capitalism and consumer zombies in the Guardian comments are irritating. It is a choice. Duh.

    I think the reason it can be difficult is that it's one of the few activities you can easily do alone when you're single - going to restaurants or to clubs by yourself is taboo, but you can look around shops alone quite happily. Keep the receipts & take stuff back, I say.

    Tim - right, also Knightsbridge, Chelsea, Kensington, Mayfair, Westminster... hm.