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    ‘I’m 57 years old and I’ve made my first online purchase thanks to lockdown’

    Online shopping has been a godsent during this pandemic, writes Anonymous, who has been self-isolating for the past two-and-a-half months. Having said that, she’s not entirely seduced by the process.


    Covid-19 brought online shopping into my life. Had it not been for the pandemic, I would not have made the switch. I like every aspect of traditional shopping: browsing, touching, smelling, talking to people, even if they don’t like me very much. If you ask me, the whole panoply of life can be found in a shop or marketplace. All of this stopped for me with the arrival of lockdown. This is because my partner has comorbidities that make this way of shopping risky.

    Moans
    Making the change has been a shock. Instead of getting into my car and going shopping, I now boot up my PC and place an order on a website. Instead of walking up and down aisles, scanning colorful displays of goods, I click on a photo of a product and read its description and check if it is in stock.

    Instead of walking out of the shop with my purchases, I wait for a courier to bring them to me. Woolworths was a slow boat at the start of lockdown. It took three weeks to deliver on the platteland. It has become quicker but the impression that it’s slow lingers. Pick ‘n Pay delivers within a day or two. Having said that, we’ve found our orders getting tweaked. Some things that we ordered have not arrive. Instead, it looked as if things deemed similar were substituted for them.

    Takealot has my partner’s vote as it has just about everything under the sun in stock. That is precisely what bothers me about them. There is too much on offer. I long for a simpler experience. Aisles, shelves, a smiling human.

    A slap on the back
    I sound like a grudge. Retailers and service providers have gone the extra mile during this pandemic. We have wanted for nothing whilst self-isolating. We were able to buy our cat food online and have it delivered, ditto with medication from the pharmacy. Our explanations (delivered in ringing tones over some distance) of self-isolation were met with smiles and good wishes.

    But my Luddite soul does not feel soothed. I do not feel especially safe from the virus. We have had to handle goods, after all. Goods that have been handled by a whole chain of humanity. Has all of our efforts been for nothing?

    Mourning
    Marc Jacobs summed up what I’m feeling. He said that he is in mourning for fashion. The industry has taken a nosedive and claimed many victims. To see what he means one only has to read the recent articles by Vanessa Friedman, the fashion editor for the New York Times. She’s started to feature DIY projects: turning a kitchen cloth into a tote bag and tie-dying clothes with veggies. I’m not critical. In fact, I plan to do these DIY projects. I’m going to do my dying with the large bag of beetroot we got from Pick ‘n Pay.

    Luxury retail will return, the pundits already predict so. It’s been this way throughout history. The panoply of the Renaissance was a result of the Bubonic plague. At this very moment people are buying valuable paintings and silverware. Strauss & Co reported last week that recent bidders came “from ten countries, including Australia, Germany and Qatar.” They say that the younger age profile is “encouraging.”

    So, people are still shopping. Some new shoppers have taken up the sport too. Which means that nothing has changed intrinsically although it might look so at the moment. That’s good news. Now, can someone please beam me back to the past so that I can be my old Luddite self?

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