Home > Lockdown, The Monday Musings Column > on the joys of shopping

on the joys of shopping

I’m going to look at this from the customer perspective. All management should do this anyway, but many seem to ignore it beyond what they see from market research and I will come on to that too in a moment.

Why do we shop? To buy stuff is the obvious, and correct answer, but how many of us go shopping and come back with more than we went for? The Berkshire Belle and I once worked with a chap who was, fortunately, married to a like minded lady. They went shopping with a list and bough only what was win the list. Things around the house had to fail completely before they were replaced; we remember that their cooker was down to one working ring on the hob before they bought a new one.

Our friends were not common though and most folks are like the double B and I in that shopping is about browsing, about buying things on impulse regardless of whether you need them or have an immediate use for them. You see, you like, you buy is how it works and that process involves not just the eyes, but touch. I will walk along a rack of golf shirts, for example, running my fingers across the fabric. I buy more by what feels nice than the colour or brand. Cutlery, glassware and crockery have all been bought by how they feel in the hand rather than anything else (except maybe how they look).

These pleasures are, if sort of allowed, not practical or desirable at the moment so, like many, we are not doing it. There is no fun anyway in visiting a shopping centre or high street and having to queue at almost every shop that you want to visit. Touching products, other than to put them into your basket or cart, is not something that is a good idea and just wandering around looking at things is not encouraged, or acceptable, when others are queuing to get in. Shopping is becoming more about necessity than a source of pleasure.

This is the dilemma for those in the retail trade and many are fighting for survival. The writing has perhaps been on the wall for a while with the impact of internet shopping and the evolving habits of each new generation, but this current plague has brought matters to a head. How they will get through it I don’t know. It seems unlikely that we will return to a world where we can shop without masks, social distancing or fear any time soon so which businesses will survive that long?

Whilst this is a problem for government in that it impacts on the economy in so many ways it is not a problem that is in their gift to solve. Market research is too often flawed and there is a lot of nonsense out there in terms of customers surveys; just sigh up to do a few of these on-line and you will see what I mean. The questions are often nonsensical and there is no way that meaningful answers can be gleaned from it, certainly not in terms of allowing management to make realistic decisions.

What we get over the next twelve months or so is going to come from innovative thinking, from people who have a vision that they can translate into actions that work and that will generate income for their businesses. As always the ones that can take advantage of the changing environment will be the survivors.

I don’t think that we will see the world that we had sic months ago again. What we emerge into will look and feel different. I don’t know that I will like it, but I will have to lump it if that is all I have.

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