High street vs online, cheap vs quality – how can we shop with a clear conscience?
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I like to shop. In fact I love to shop. So much so, that I used to wonder if I could add it to my CV as a hobby. When I read Confessions of a Shopaholic the first time, I didn’t think ‘This is awful, Becky Bloomwood really should stop shopping.’ I got it, I understood it. I love the rush of walking into a shop and scanning the rails to see where I will head first.

I’ve always loved shopping ever since I was little and my Mum would take me on what she would call ‘Razzle Dazzles’. Now if ‘Razzle Dazzle’ doesn’t sound magical, I don’t know what does. It would always involve a mooch round the shops and usually some cake.

Fast forward a number of years and I still love to shop and don’t mind where I do it. I love buying second hand (all my friends know I can’t walk past a charity shop without popping in), vintage, independent, online, on the high street. I don’t mind. But I am a serial returner. Someone who orders clothes usually in a couple of sizes and then has to return a number of items because they don’t fit. But Amazon has recently announced that it is going to start banning people that return lots of items to them, as they are being inundated with returns. The more people I talk to about this, the more I realise I’m not alone. People often buy multiple sizes of the same item, just to make sure it fits.

It seems all of a sudden that ‘shopping’ has become a dirty word. Yet each week the media discusses the failing state of the high street. So what are we to do? With more companies going bust each month, it seems we can’t do right for doing wrong. Lately I’ve noticed a real increase in the number of shop assistants that helpfully offer to search online for the right item for you (whilst you are standing in store). So aren’t they effectively encouraging you to shop online, which will only lead to the demise of the high street even more?

There’s a lot of discussion around ethical clothing companies and sustainability in fashion, which is fantastic and obviously should be encouraged. But I still find it shocking that some people actually bin their clothes – not taking them to a charity shop or a clothing recycling bank, literally putting them in the bin. This is disgusting.

But then I’ve been watching numerous TV shows lately which discuss brand vs. budget and often the budget item wins. So what is this message telling us? On the one hand we are being told that we need to shop less and spend more so that we buy good quality items that will last. But then we are being bombarded with messages about how you don’t need to spend a fortune to buy something nice. Cheap is fine too.

I for one, am torn. I love the idea in investing in quality pieces, if you can afford that - but actually shouldn’t it just be about buying items that we love - whether they cost a fortune or not? And making sure we wear them - and often. And then when we are finished with them, we hand them on to someone else so they can love them too.

So I won’t stop shopping, but I do now ask myself if I am still going to love said top/shoes/jeans in a year’s time. If the answer is no, I leave it. I think Becky Bloomwood would be proud.