Written by Vix Leyton

Lifestyle

Online versus on foot

With online shopping options getting even broader, will we soon be waving goodbye to the high street? Nah, says Vix Leyton.

people shopping
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I have a love-hate relationship with high-street shopping. The hallowed stores of Cardiff city centre hold bittersweet memories for me as the muster point for every Saturday with my three best friends throughout high school. Like every other teenager, we followed a well-trodden path around all the late 1990s staples (Tammy Girl, anyone?) before inevitably ending up either in the food court or McDonald’s. Good times.

As an adult, the experience is more fraught. I have more money (depending on what time of the month you ask me) but less time, meaning shopping trips have become a military extraction operation: get in, buy what you need, get the hell out, preferably without PTSS. I should just stay at home and shop online, right? Well, there are pros and cons.

Beats by Nay

I don’t remember this from when I was a teenager, but now I find the aggressive pounding beat of the fashion high street a little… much. Was it always that loud? That said, I rail against the ambience of M&S and Debenhams with their MOR playlists punctuated by adverts for in-store demonstrations of kitchenware. Where are the shops for the people in between these very clear life stages?

shopping in the 1950s
When I venture into Topshop, wandering dazedly among teeny, tiny clothes with cut-outs in places I don’t understand, I’m never quite sure if the staff are going to send for archaeologists to brush me like a fossil, or for Greenpeace to roll me back in the sea. There must be something between the teenage dream and the in-store cafe, surely? Women, please tweet me your suggestions: @PRVix.

I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want

The biggest obstacle for me when it comes to online shopping is that it takes away my powers to browse. Faced with the cursor blinking away, I am struck by a universal truth that applies to me in regards to most things: I simply do not know what I want.

The in-store experience suits me as I like to be shown things, to have someone suggest something, surprise me. Wandering around shops’ curated ‘best-of’ inspires me, even if that inspiration takes me home to wildly Google ‘playsuits for stocky gals’.

In an era when everything’s available, there’s a risk of being overwhelmed by choice and coming away from your phone or computer with absolutely feck all.

The only thing that looks good on me is… you?

Changing rooms are harrowing because they lie to me, and the spectrum of lies takes me all the way from a Bambi-legged model to the ugliest hag on earth. There are good angles for me (see my photos on Facebook and Twitter), but there are angles I simply never need to see.

“When I venture into Topshop, wandering dazedly among teeny, tiny clothes with cut-outs in places I don’t understand, I’m never quite sure if the staff are going to send for archaeologists to brush me like a fossil, or for Greenpeace to roll me back in the sea.”

I have experienced both at the hands of capricious fitting rooms. I just don’t understand what circus shops these mirrors are from – how can you go from goddess to grey-faced apparition in the distance from Dorothy Perkins to H&M?

A pessimist is never disappointed

Though running that gauntlet is, at times, an unpalatable horror, so too is the crushing disappointment of an order you waited for/gambled on coming and having it turn out to be a complete shitshow.

ASOS, for me, is basically a purveyor of grown-up Kinder Eggs. I accept I might get something amazing or I might end up with, to use a real example from last week, something that looked adorable on the 10-foot model but on me, “like a Victorian night dress” (actual feedback). But, like a Kinder Egg, whatever comes out of the distinctive bag will be destined to be knocking around for a while, either way…

Never gonna give you up…

Bringing me to ‘the shame pile’. A quick poke around the bottom of my bedroom wardrobe exposes the pile of clothes beautifully packaged in return bags… that this paragon of laziness has failed to take to the relevant posting station. This is not ASOS’s fault; they have kindly put free return points at about 20 shops local to me.

The liability is with me; it’s a reflection of my sloth coupled with uncertainty about those little ‘just in case’ buys that I deliberately keep for an unlikely turn of events. Some ‘JIC’ scenarios include:

• I get a completely non-fatal tropical disease that sees me lose 30lbs overnight
• I urgently need a Victorian nightdress costume for a hugely important historical reenactment/role-playing event
• My swimmer shoulders get magically re-modelled so sequinned capes no longer make me look like a musicals-loving American footballer.

shopping alley
Hopelessly devoted

In summary: despite the magical evolution in online shopping I think I’ll remain hopelessly devoted to the noisy, bonkers high street for the considerable future.

Online is absolutely brilliant (as well as dangerous – you can go from ‘Where did you get that dress?!’ to ‘checkout now’/bankruptcy in approximately two minutes), but when the stars align, the experience of getting out and shopping – touching fabrics, laughing at the belly-skimming impossible and shrieking with my friends as we navigate the horrors of the fitting room together – wins out.

Also, no good shopping movie montage ever started with a load of women putting items in a virtual basket.

You can earn cashback online and in-store. To earn while you hit the high street, simply sign up for a Quidco account (if you haven’t already), then link it to one or more debit or credit cards. Once you’ve linked a card, simply use it to pay in-store and we’ll do the rest.

Activate the offers you like, either online or via the Quidco app, and then shop. Your cashback will rack up in your account. Standard Issue readers can sign up to Quidco completely free to start earning cashback immediately. And, as a shopping treat, we will give you a £10 free cashback on top of what you earn when you make your first purchase through us – online or in-store.

Click here for more info.

quidco-logo-rgbSponsored by Quidco

Quidco, the nation’s leading cashback and rewards site, offers cashback on purchases online and in-store at the nation’s biggest high street favourites. Quidco High Street provides cashback on in-store shopping simply by allowing members to register their own credit or debit cards on their member profile, activate the offers they want and then shop as normal. Cashback is available through more than 40 retailers in more than 5,300 stores including fashion, household, dining out, gifts and travel.

@PRVix
@quidco

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Written by Vix Leyton

Vix is a financial PR and ginabler who lives and works in East London. As a result she long ago lost sight of whether riding a unicycle while wearing a monocle is par for the course on a normal day.