What are we really shopping for?
My alarm went off at 5.45am on Friday morning last week. I didn’t need to be up until much later, but nonetheless, I diligently obeyed the soothing tones of radio 4 and was out of the house by 6.30am.
I do love London at this time in the morning, but that wasn’t why I got up so early. The reason was: to shop.
It seems madness even typing that in hindsight, but yes, that is why I shortened my sleep by 1hr 45mins at the end of a long week. The Shrimps sample sale was due to start at 7.30am so I got there for 7am, large coffee in hand. And I was by no means the first person.
When I sat down on the side of the pavement, in the dark, and looked around me at all the other early risers, the thoughts going through my mind were not of which particular scarf or bag I was hoping to snap up, but instead: what was driving these women to queue for discounted jumpers at 7am? What was I, and my fellow faux fur enthusiasts, really shopping for?
There is a thrill to picking up a £300 jumper for £75 (thank you, tick, see image), but that short-term high doesn’t get anyone out of bed. There is a gap which we are hoping our new purchase will plug. What are we really hoping to buy? Is it identity? Validation? Confidence?
When I ask myself what really drives me to shop, I suppose my answer is a sense of identity. The way I dress has become so wrapped up with who I am that it gets me out of bed at unearthly hours of the morning. If I really ask myself why I was queuing for coats at 7am, I think my answer would be for emotional reasons, and not material. But maybe that isn’t so bad?