As the realization begins to hit home across the world, people are adjusting to the new normal as a response to the global pandemic of Coronavirus. The way in which we lived ‘before’ is simply not possible in our current environment. For many, this change has increased hidden anxieties and worries.
One of the biggest changes socially, is the way in which we shop. From supermarkets to shopping malls, local retail outlets and smaller corner shops. There are many different types of shopping experiences. A quick dash to the local shop to pick up tonight’s tea, the lengthy ‘big shop’ to stack the cupboards that you insist will last for weeks. A stroll around the city with friends to choose a new outfit for the weekend ahead or a mad dash to find school shoes on the last day of the school summer holidays. One thing is certain, these experiences will never be the same again. Whether you find shopping therapeutic or an ordeal, we can be sure that the way in which we shop has changed for the foreseeable future.
When we begin to unpick the ways in which we shop and the way it can make us feel, questions arise as to how this will affect our future social and emotional well being. Take for example a new mother, a trip to the local supermarket offering a few moments of peace and clarity as you stroll along the aisles hands free, having left the baby at home with Daddy. That same shopping trip now opens up anxieties of guilt and confusion as you dare not touch anything and your tired head forgets to follow the one way system in place. Children are being discouraged to attend shops with their adults and a new generation of fear and uncertainty at feeling unsafe in public spaces is setting in. Single parents have the added guilt of not being able to leave their young children at home and their daily experiences of a judgmental society leaving them with unnecessary anxiety. It is our responsibility as a nation not to allow for this negative response and instead show understanding for each individual’s circumstances.
Shopping in a supermarket has now become a military operation, quite rightly for the safety of its staff and its customers. However, for many, this can highlight anxieties. The overwhelming idea of making sure they sanitize their trolley, keep inside the 2 metre lines on the floor, follow the one way system, wipe down the purchased shopping and change their clothing when they get home. All this before any decision on what food to buy has even been made. Having to do this alone has left many making the choice to stay at home and rely on others.
The competition between supermarkets has been taken to another level as their reputation for being well organized, providing sanitation stations and appearing clean is thrown to the forefront.
Online shopping has become even more popular than ever, with retail shops and supermarkets being relied upon daily for their continued commitment to providing goods to people’s doors. Certainly for an older generation, this can be a crucial help in the fight to save their lives. This said, in the tech savvy world in which we now live, there is a certain amount of reliability from others that is still needed to make these things possible. We must also ask ourselves how reliant are the older generation on the social aspects of a daily trip to the shop or supermarket. Where is the balance in isolation between loneliness and survival?
As we look ahead to the future, will a shopping trip with friends and family ever look the same again? Teenagers piled into fitting rooms to discuss the clothes they have tried on. Mothers and bridesmaids sitting with happy tears, watching the bride try on the perfect dress. Parents stood next to their children as they display their first school uniform or prom suit/dress in the mirror.
Will this shift in future shopping allow more opportunities for smaller local businesses, seeing people choose to stay closer to home? Or will they die out altogether as we become a world of online shoppers, trapped in the confirms and safety of our house? Are packed shopping malls a thing of the past as we begin to follow a more regimented and restricted regime? The anticipation of this new way of shopping will undoubtedly see lunch stops, coffee breaks and ‘a quick drink’ as a thing of the past. Perhaps the social element of shopping will be lost forever as we prepared to embark on this new way of life. What is certain is that the future will be unlike anything we have experienced before.