My eldest daughter is a student at Sheffield University. Like most students, she relies on us for a bit of help from time to time, and this includes me buying her larger items such as a winter coat and boots.
Yesterday we met up at Meadowhall (near Sheffield) for a coat and boots shopping expedition. Meadowhall is the biggest mall locally to us with 1.5 million square feet of retail space. I’ve visited 3 times in the last ten years: since I’m trying to live a frugal life, recreational retail therapy doesn’t sit comfortably with me.
Yet again I found the whole experience bewildering. There appears to be a requirement to dress up to go shopping, including perfect hair and makeup for women. People were walking laden with carrier bags, many from up-market labels, there were long queues for the changing rooms and even longer queues for for the tills.
I didn’t see much evidence yesterday of the ‘age of austerity’. Perhaps people are living for today and ignoring this week’s pleas to pay down their debts. I do wonder where it all might end. What is even more interesting is what would happen if we did all stop shopping?
So how did we manage with our expedition? It was successful, with my daughter kitted out with a warm coat and boots. We followed several rules:
- Make a list of what you need before you go
- Have a budget for what you are going to spend
- Decide which stores are most likely to have what you need and target those (especially useful when shopping in a large mall)
- Time limit the expedition – we limited ourselves to 4 hours which meant we were focused in our efforts and were not tempted to drift into other stores and buy unplanned purchases.
It was wonderful to see my daughter, and I’m glad she has a warm coat, but I think a trip like this once a year is more than enough for me.