I think by now you can kind of guess I love to shop, and it upsets me to hear at times when people say they can’t stand it, they prefer to shop online.
Shopping online, let’s be honest, is not much fun – you’ve got to guess your size, you have to pay postage and if you want to skip that you have to buy more and then you hate yourself at the end of the month when the credit card bill lands. It’s such an easy way to get carried away as you are not physically carrying bags and having that stop button in your head of “I think I’ve spent enough”
Okay I get the pros… you can do it in your pjs (I get that) you can do it very late at night (yes I’ve had my panic buys too!) – but for the love of a sociable life, you need to head out of the front door!
Shopping can be fun, you just need to prepare correctly, and have the attitude to be calm, relaxed and go with the flow. Any shopping trip with a ‘must have‘ or ‘last minute panic because I left it to the last minute‘ is never going to be a good shopping trip.
Here’s hoping you’ll give some thought to my shopping tips before you head out for your next trip. My wish for you is to have a fun, enjoyable, sociable day and of course success in only buying the items you actually need.
And one thing I would like you to promise me – is that if you get the items home and it’s not right – you don’t hide them at the back of the wardrobe, you return and get a refund within the timescales of T&C’s of that retailer, normally 28 days, but check and especially check the sale items BEFORE you purchase.
GO WITH A GREAT SHOPPING BUDDY
We all have different friends for different aspects of our lives, and for a fun and enjoyable trip these are the qualities you are looking for in your shopping buddy. And maybe you have different friends for different types of shopping, for example if you have a friend who loves shoes or has previously worked in a shoe shop this would be good for shoe shopping – it’s a little like The Apprentice, select wisely and use their skills!
For me a great shopping buddy is those that like to start with coffee and chat, who wear practical shoes as I shop all day. They are happy to be in changing room for a while, going back and forth and likewise for them too. Plus they must be happy to go back to stores we’ve already been to.
MAKE A DAY OF IT
If you shop on your own for a specific need, then yes 2-3 hours is probably the time you need to allow. But going with a friend I highly recommend that you give yourselves plenty of time. So block the whole day, leave your phone in your handbag (there’s always plenty of refreshment breaks to have a look!) and take you time to shop at leisure.
There are so many great shopping centres and cities that give you the opportunity to make a day of it, so use it as a way to get some’Me Time’ that we all crave.
Some of my favourite places to shop are Westfield Shepherd’s Bush, Westgate Oxford, Eden Centre in High Wycombe, CMK in Milton Keynes along with St Albans, Cheltenham and Nottingham cities and not forgetting good old London Town.
I’ve recently come across a new shopping ‘centre’ it’s outdoors in Northamptonshire and it’s called Rushden Lakes – and it’s this location that I’ve chosen to create this post from.
Don’t rush lunch… get Mediterranean with your style and enjoy your lunch at leisure. Most places offer consumers a variety of different cuisines and eateries within close location to each other. Take this time to reflect on what you’ve seen, what you want to head back for and what is still on your list to find.
VARIETY IS THE KEY
If all the stores only offered black clothes that’s all you will be able to buy. I highly recommend that you take the time to travel to bigger locations to get more choice. Ideally a location that has at least one department store.
I would always recommend to start in a department store as they have key brands of various price-points and you can quickly gauge who might have what you need or you get a feel for the cost you may need to spend. If they don’t have exactly what you want, but you’ve worked out which stores may have, then head to them next.
Don’t buy everything as soon as you see it. This is why you need time and I generally don’t buy anything much before lunch. I want the opportunity to reflect, to go see more and to chat it through over lunch or coffee and then firmly decide what I am heading back for.
Most stores will hold an item for you for about 2 hours, I use this service a lot – it keeps you calm about no one else grabbing that one size that fitted you perfectly. And don’t always assume you can get it online, I’ve missed out on some great items thinking I can do that. Stores are getting savvy – they have some items in store only and some items that are exclusive online.
AMENITIES ARE EVERYTHING
I do judge and form opinions about places, this will impact where I shop in the future. And so should you, this will form the basis of where you will (in time) love to shop. Your list may not be the same as mine, but I’m sure we have a few in common:
- Easy and cheap parking – I frequently go to Westfield Shepherd’s Bush because I am a Smart Parking customer and it’s £8 all day and I don’t have to faff with tickets either. I’m very keen on Park & Ride and I’m happy taking a bus ride into a city. I was pretty impressed with Rushden Lakes as it’s FREE for up to 5 hours
- Good toilet facilities – I hate public toilets and I will judge a shopping centre or city on this type of amenity. Ladies like them clean, modern and stylish with plenty of room and mirrors to get themselves sorted
- A great selection of cafes and restaurants – when I take a break, I want it to be relaxing, I like to people watch (don’t we all), I need free WIFI that works and I like choice of either sitting inside or outside
- Areas that have seating where you are not in the walkway of a shopping centre or on the pavements in the cities – we all need five minutes in the day to gather our thoughts and if you’ve just had a coffee break you might not be ready for another one.
With the big shopping season ahead for Christmas, I would like it to be as fun and enjoyable for you. If you’ve loved it by using my shopping tips, then you might just brave it again for the January sales!
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