Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Shopping on the Web Is Not My Bag; CITY LIVES

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Shopping on the Web Is Not My Bag; CITY LIVES

Article excerpt


IT'S FRIDAY lunchtime and my friend Ally emails me a Jpeg of a [pounds sterling]300 Burberry Prorsum leather bag that she has seen on the Net-A-Porter website.

"Is it justifiable?" she writes.

"It's in the sale. I've gone through all order process except 'payment'.

Have the fear. Maybe I should wait till Monday?

What if they are all sold out? Aaargh!"

Now, I think [pounds sterling]300 is perfectly justifiable (with a [pounds sterling]300 bag she can wear Topshop all year and still look chic) but I'd never buy a handbag online, much less a designer one. Where's the joy in that? If I'm paying [pounds sterling]300 for something I want the experience to be as sensory and as drawn out as possible. I want to touch it, feel it, hold it before I hand over my mone.

After all, that's part of the fun.

"I know it sounds a bit Luddite ... but bags are like babies ... they need to cradled," I reply.

A few minutes later Ally emails again: "Have removed myself from Net-A-Porter site and now coming down off 'buying bag high' without buying bag."

And then there's my friend Kate. Kate spent [pounds sterling]250 on a Chloe bag on ebay. Or at least, what she was told was a Chloe bag.

When it arrived it was clear she'd spent [pounds sterling]250 on a fake Chloe bag.

These tales tell me two things: that my friends and I have skewed views on what constitutes a bargain, and that virtual shopping is a poor substitute for the real thing.

This contradicts last week's reports that the success of online shopping is such that the high street is now little more than a showroom for the internet. Online sales at John Lewis, for example, have risen by a staggering 70 per cent, while the otherwise flagging Next has been pretty much saved by a 33 per cent increase in online business.

Granted, online sales are going up at an impressive rate, but isn't that because the starting point was so low? Those predicting the death of the high street are forgetting about people like me for whom shopping isn't just about owning more stuff, it's about the whole thrilling experience. …

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