Can’t try anything on? Here are our top tips for shopping post-lockdown

Shopping after lockdown

You know the feeling. You’re in Primark on a Saturday and the queue goes on for miles. You want to try something on but, oh look, that’s no longer an option. Is it worth it? You look at the items in your hands and consider putting them back and leaving.

That’s how post-lockdown shopping can feel, which is why you need to plan and prepare for your shopping outings - at least for a while. Just remember, it’s for your own safety, and your favourite stores are doing you a favour, even if you hate the winding queues, one-way system and closed changing rooms.

1. List it or leave it

The first stage of your prep should be making a list of exactly what you’re looking for. Unfortunately, any dreams of spending hours browsing your favourite stores will have to wait, for now, it’s all about shopping effectively. The plus side: the environment will thank you. If you don’t have an occasion in mind (21st June, anyone?), focus on creating a particular outfit. How often do we buy one particular piece of clothing, only to never wear it because it doesn’t go with anything you own? Have a browse online for inspiration and see if those stores have anything you’d like to see in person. If they do, note it down in advance. This will make it so much easier to shop once you’re in the store.

2. Get measuring

The biggest issue of post lockdown shopping: changing rooms are closed. Not only is trying on clothes part of the experience, but it’s also often a key deciding factor on whether or not you buy something. It’s no secret that brands all use their own sizing, and while you may be one size somewhere, you may be a completely different one elsewhere. To combat this, in these early days of shops reopening, it’s probably better to stick to your favourite stores where you know the sizings roughly. Alternatively, make sure you take all your measurements ahead of shopping - shoulder width, chest/bust, waist, hip, sleeve and leg length.

3. Check return policies

With no choice but to turn to online shopping, we’re already used to not being able to try before you buy and relying on returns to protect our bank balances. Now it’s time to do the same for in-store experiences. During COVID, many online retailers have extended their returns window to 60 days, so we may see reopened stores do the same to encourage people to stay at home while restrictions are still easing. If you can, research return policies before you head to the store (if it’s online) to avoid heading unnecessarily to and from shopping centres and high streets. Unfortunately, this might not always be possible and return policies may be advertised either behind the counter or at the request of the staff.

4. Be comfortable

You can expect to do a lot of queuing and waiting around, so it’s worth getting comfortable so the experience isn’t unnecessarily stressful. Wear comfortable clothing - after all, you won’t be trying anything on, so it doesn’t matter what you wear. Of course, feeling good about yourself can make you feel more confident while shopping, so consider balancing comfort with what makes you happy. Take some water and maybe some snacks, grab your earphones and you should be ready for anything. If you have kids, it’s best to leave them at home if possible and if not, you’ll definitely need entertainment.

5. Stop impulse buying

We’re all guilty of it at some point. We see something that catches our eye and that’s it, we just have to have it, it’s human nature. The rules of post-lockdown shopping probably won’t help with this as being herded around a store in a single direction, unable to go back for anything without braving the endless queue again will have you picking up everything you even slightly like. To avoid this, remember your list, visualise the outfits you want to create and evaluate how versatile the item is. If you can’t imagine how you’d wear it in multiple outfits, don’t buy it.

6. Shop online

Of course, while it seems silly to mention, shopping online is probably still the superior option. Online retailers have made it easier than ever to buy, try on and return items almost entirely at your own leisure. The only downsides are delivery fees, but even then, it’s simply a case of finding shipping deals and ones with low free delivery thresholds, and the availability of return dropoff spots for those of you living in rural areas. Otherwise, what’s stopping you?

Things have changed and will continue to change for the foreseeable future, but if shopping is something you enjoy, there are definitely ways to do it safely and comfortably - hopefully, these tips have helped you discover that.

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