Much is written about shopping centres and how the mall is being replaced with a keyboard. In the US, JC Penny and Macy’s are closing stores – key anchors in many shopping centres. As these and other retailers deal with reduced footfall traffic, many blame the rise of online shopping as the reason.
And, while it may be true, I certainly hope we never get to the point where people don’t ever have to leave their homes. Work online, shop online, read online, practice faith online, talk online…. The future seems bleak. And, quite frankly, lonely.
All of this is quite disturbing to me. For centuries, people have obtained their necessities from local shops. Shopping is not just about buying stuff – it is an integral part of our social lives. When we shop, we engage with new people, see old friends and reconnect with the world around us. We shop for entertainment as much as we shop for necessity. Browsing is a social activity; an opportunity to dream about goods we cannot (yet) afford perhaps, or to stay current with trends.
And, yes, while you can peruse merchandise online, it doesn’t get you out of the house to spend a leisurely afternoon, alone or with friends. You can see, touch or try on merchandise. You can’t interact with sales staff or observe life around you.
Hey, don’t get me wrong, I do my share of online shopping. But nothing beats a sunny afternoon strolling along a shopping district, popping in and out of stores.
Go outside and play!