I’m waiting for friends outside Urban Outfitters in Oxford Street, one of Britain’s most famous consumer meccas.
My friends are running late and it’s given me the opportunity to observe a phenomenon that, until very recently, I was a firm part of: zombie shoppers.
It’s rush hour so there are an awful lot of people making their way home from work but half the people are definitely here to shop. Gaggles of schoolgirls and weary families are traipsing past, weighed down with all manner of bags from discount retailers selling quick-fix fashion to those lugging designer bags containing outfits that are two weeks’ wages for some people.
It doesn’t matter where they’ve been or how much money they have spent, they are all united in the pursuit of purchasing.
And I can see so clearly now how it happens. Being able to step back a little, I can see how enticing shopping and consuming is.
The advertising boards are offering us a better life, one where we are better dressed, prettier and, most crucially, happier. I have to admit that staring at the shop fronts while I waited, I did contemplate whether I could justify a little splurge on the ‘essentials’.
Old habits die hard.
I was a dyed-in-the-wool consumer but I would never have admitted it before. Because I didn’t like to shop in the high street and liked to buy vintage items, scouring second-hand shops and bric-a-brac stores, I felt that I wasn’t a ‘consumer’ – the lies we tell ourselves!
It doesn’t matter what you’re consuming or from where, everyone is chasing the same things – the promise of a new and improved you. Until next season’s new range comes in and the new and improved you that you purchased three months ago will be a sad, out-of-date you.
I’m learning to enjoy the out-of-date me, the one who only has what she needs and wants to focus on experiences rather than things. It’s not an easy transition but I’m starting to feel that I’m one zombie shopper that is slowly coming back to real life.