Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Christmas Shopping

14th December 2011

I shop like a boy.

I’m a shopping Ninja – in and out – smash and grab.

I do pay, it’s not like I’m stealing. 

I just don’t like shopping very much - that might be a bad thing to say for a girl.

When I told people we were going to New York for our honeymoon, they said “Great – the shops are amazing. You are going to go shopping aren’t you?”

I would rather ear my own ear wax with a spoon. Go shopping at the expense of walking over the Brooklyn Bridge, exploring China Town, visiting a gallery or just ‘being’ in Central Park watching New York City Life jog past. Hell no – not for me.

As it happens, I live 12 minutes drive (I’ve timed it) from one of Europe’s most impressive shopping emporiums. Yes, The Trafford Centre is my local (ish) shopping centre. It’s where we go to the cinema and where I head if I ‘need’ something in particular. Everything you could ever possibly want under one roof. 

Just like being in Rome.

I especially like the domes and pillars and over the top Roman (or are they Grecian) statues and chariots. It just makes it look more interesting than your regular shopping centre box. 

People come on coach trips from far and wide to visit The Traff - to worship at the cathedral of shopping.

Although I do like the occasional mooch – at Christmas I avoid it like the plague. I’m not good in crowds or shopping under pressure. Whenever I go I feel like it’s a failed mission to come back empty handed, which has led to some very inappropriate purchases in the past. 

At the moment I keep hearing lots of horror stories from friends who’ve been to The Traff recently and only just managed to escape with their lives, caught walking the wrong way with a buggy against a tide of shoppers – carried away by a Tsunami of consumers. 

Queueing for hours to get in and out of car parks. 

Recession? What recession?

The thought horrifies me, so at Christmas I become an Internet shopper – as does everyone else on my road it seems if the number of parcels I’ve taken in for people is anything to go by. I think the postman’s seen me in my pyjamas more times this week than my husband ........ as it were.

But yesterday – I couldn’t avoid it. There was no way around it - I needed to physically go into a shop. With my friend’s warnings about The Traff–ic jams ringing in my ears, I decided to go instead into Altrincham – now sadly famous for its number of empty shops. A 'ghost town' centre! 

But do you know what? I had a really good time. It was the best shopping experience I’ve had for ages.

The number of empty shops and state of the UK’s high streets has been in the news a lot this week with the publishing of a government report and recommendations from Mary Queen of Shops herself (Mary Portas) to get us reconnecting with our high streets.

I’d forgotten how good ‘normal shopping’ can be. 

Wandering in your own time without feeling constantly hassled, having a leisurely poke around interesting looking shops, coming out for a nice bit of fresh air in between. So much nicer that the relentless air conditioning and artificial lighting of indoor shopping malls! 

Rummaging around charity shops I found some real gems. I may never pay full price again. Walking down the main shopping street, without being swamped by other shoppers was lovely and not only did I manage to find everything I wanted, I bumped into a friend on the way. I think I paid 30p for 2hrs in the car park and there were no queues in or out. 

All in all a very stress free shop. I highly recommend a bit of local shopping and the stark reality is that if we don’t support our local shops they will disappear from the high street altogether and then we’ll have no choice.

It’s so easy to get carried away at Christmas - shopping can get a bit addictive. You must have this and you must have that.  

This year, with my ‘austerity Christmas’ I’m spending more of my shopping time being creative, so while people might get slightly odd presents, it won’t ruin their Christmas and I won’t be ruined in the process.

Having said all that, we are off to The Traff this evening - hopefully a trip to the cinema to see Arthur Christmas (its half price Orange Wednesday so it would be rude not to). 

Note to self: Must remember to wear sensible shoes – it’s a long walk from the overflow car park!


  1. please don't scare me with unannounced photos of the Portas woman. She annoys the heck out of me. Anyone who describes the high street as needing to be 'a destination' needs a cold slap. People need jobs, then they can shop.

    That said. I love to shop! I'd do it more if I had more cold hard cash, and I am sure I'm not alone in that! I'm glad you had a good time. Shopping should be fun.

    I would gladly shop with you or for you, I am in my element shopping. I've not shopped at the Trafford, I'm in East Anglia, so if I do a super shop it's at Lakeside or Bluewater. Utter Heaven! Even the weekly food shop makes me smile.

    I'm really quite sad!

  2. Holy Cow - I think you might need treatment! Please do become my personal shopper. Sorry for the Portas scare - it's not my intention to terrify my readers. I've just discovered the 'X-large' function on the photos.

    Never made it to Arthur Christmas last night. Car parks were ridiculous. Including parking tactics that I've only witnessed before in Italy. The place was still packed at 10.30pm when we came out of second choice movie - people didn't look happy, just harassed!

    Happy shopping x

  3. That is very true: wearing comfortable shoes is a must when doing your Christmas shopping. And while you're at it, it also helps to wear comfy clothes. My youngest sister is one avid shopper. On a good day, she can spend the whole day browsing through all the stores in the commercial center.