I went shopping with my wife the other day, to a British city centre nearby. My ordeal lasted ten hours. During many idle moments, I compiled this rough guide for shoppers who are unsure whether to shop online or offline in future.
I decided that shoppers SHOULD shop offline, at a nearby shopping centre, if they:
* Enjoy getting up early, to drive through slow-moving traffic and secure cheap parking places.
* Aren't too worried if their parked cars are scratched or bumped anonymously whilst they're out shopping.
* Thrive outdoors in the British climate, and are impervious to rain, hail, snow, wind, heat, frost, fog etc.
* Welcome walking from shop to shop, to find what they or their partner needs, at the best prices.
* Don't panic when their partner says that s/he wants to try an eighth store for a 'special something'.
* Like driving and/or walking back to stores, if goods are faulty, the wrong size or they forget something.
* View the carrying of heavy plastic bags, which slice into their hands, as a form of exercise.
* See avoiding pickpockets, thieves and robbers as a bit of 'sport' too.
* Tolerate sinister young men with a taste for beer, lurking in boisterous groups on street corners.
* Humour young parents with 4x4 buggies and/or unruly, unrestrained toddlers that scream loudly.
* Think retired people should only go shopping at the weekends and in the evenings, at the same time as people who work.
* Believe wide friends have the right to amble slowly side-by-side, in ways that block pavements and passageways.
* Don't mind being buffeted by other hungry shoppers, also trying to secure tables at eating outlets.
* Shrug-off the astronomic prices in shopping centres, for snacks and drinks of indifferent quality.
* Enjoy dodging cars, vans and lorries, and feel they belong in city centres during shopping hours.
* Think that second-hand cigarette smoke and vehicle fumes add a 'certain something' to shopping.
* Relish sharing strangers' viruses, bacteria, body odours, exotic language, odd habits etc.
* Are tolerant of shop assistants' occasional bad manners, surly behaviour and incompetence.
* Like queuing, smelly toilets and litter, and/or removing dog mess and chewing gum from shoes or buggy wheels.
* Enjoy finding quiet spots in otherwise confined, crowded and claustrophobic public spaces.
* Think graffiti really is an art form, and smile when shop maintenance goes unattended for weeks.
* Shrug their shoulders if shops open only when it's convenient for owners, staff (and politicians).
* Remove carefully the flyers left furtively under their windscreen wipers whilst parked and read them avidly later.
I could go on but, if you identify yourself with most of these phenomena, then you probably should shop at a shopping centre nearby. If, like me though, you find many of them irksome, you might consider shopping online instead next time!