shop ’til you drop

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T’other day I received an email from one of you (who shall remain nameless) and, shock-horror, the individual not only conspicuously failed to even once mention coronavirus, Covid-19, unprecedented times and one-vs-two-metres’ social distancing but also completely avoided signing-off with ‘hoping you keep safe, protected and healthy’. What must they have been thinking? A pandemic is for the whole year and not just for Spring, and don’t you forget it.

During recent TV interviews ahead of the further long-telegraphed relaxation in the government’s rules, several ministers have urged us all to ‘get out there, get shopping and start spending’, explicitly implying it was nothing less than our civic duty to do so. Only, there were few things I wanted to do less. I’ve missed several things during lockdown – family, friends, swimming, squash, the pub – but shopping ain’t one of them. Perhaps there was once a time when sauntering in and out of town centre shops at the weekend may have constituted something akin to a leisure activity, but continually finding nothing fashionable in an XXS ultimately took the shine off the pastime.

Certain products have needed no such encouragement and have been flying-off the shelves for months now, from pasta and toilet paper to builders’ plaster and copies of Camus’ The Plague. Apparently. The well-publicised shortages of flour and bakers’ yeast highlight that when the going gets tough, the British get baking. However, the recent announcement of ‘support bubbles’ does seem to have had the desired effect on splashing the cash wrt the most unlikely of products. Sales of lingerie, chocolates, champagne, prosecco and flowers have subsequently surged as living-apart couples have been able to reunite and er, reacquaint themselves. Lacy underwear and satin nightdresses shot up Amazon’s sales rankings, while searches for Milk Tray & Black Magic rose by 58%, sparkling wine by 15% and crystal flutes by 60%. Romantic fools the lot of you!

Worryingly though, there has also been an equal surge in demand for puppies during lockdown, with the popular crossbreds cockapoos and labradoodles going for more than four times their pre-lockdown price, as much as £10,000. Let’s hope the buyers are as besotted in three-months’ time when the cold rain of winter returns. As dog charities are going to be keen to remind us: A dog is for life, not just for lockdown.