Dave Conaghan is owner of young fashion independent Chocolate Clothing in Derry, Northern Ireland.
Another Christmas is now upon us, folks, with most of us spending time with family and friends, eating, drinking, being merry and spoiling each other with presents. Retailers across the country are working around the clock to have their stores full of great product, delivering excellent customer service and scrambling to cash in on the three biggest weeks of fashion trading a year.
After making my first trip to my local shopping centre last week to start on my Christmas list, I couldn’t help but feel that the nostalgia of Christmas shopping wasn’t present. I have fond memories as a child of going around town with my parents, in and out of shops weeks before Christmas on our busy local high street, enjoying the decorations and hunting forthe perfect outfit and presents. There was a real buzz and atmosphere.
But this year there was simply not the footfall on the high street. Gone were the throngs of shoppers that I remember from yesteryear, and this is mirrored up and down the country in other towns and small cities. Aside from the likes of London’s Oxford Street, Manchester and Birmingham, I believe the traditional seasonal stereotype of crowds of happy Christmas shoppers braving the weather and late-night openings are starting to disappear on our local high street. Unfortunately, with many traditional stores being replaced with betting shops, coffee shops, convenience stores and charity shops, more people are forsaking the high street and turning to out-of-town shopping centres and supermarkets with free and easy parking and a wider choice of products. Otherwise, they are opting to order online from the comfort of their own home to save the time and hassle of making the trip into town.
So it is sad to say that a big part of Christmas these days is waiting on that packet or that cardboard box through the post. But fear not. For those like me who still love the old traditional format of Christmas, it usually kicks in on the final days when the cut-off date for online deliveries has passed.