Why the rush to Primark? Have we learned nothing?

Primark in Norwich reopens after coronavirus lockdown

Primark in Norwich reopens after coronavirus lockdown - Credit: Archant

After lockdown, why do so many people not realise that non essential goods might actually be non essential?

So through all of lockdown, through the loneliness, the absence of loved ones, the strange dreams and internal monologues, the wrestling with technology, the health fears for relatives who were shielding, the sad deaths of people I care about, the worries about my children and their schooling, the fears about the political situation and whether our leaders are up to it... there was one thing that kept me going.

When this is all over... I can go to Primark.

Alright, I’m lying, OF COURSE I’M LYING!

But clearly, if Monday’s queues are anything to go by, if not the case for me, it was certainly the case for a lot of people and I have to ask them – why?

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So many of us had been hurtling along, thinking only about what we have, taking the things that matter like children and family for granted, taking everything for granted if truth be told, when suddenly along came a moment, a seismic life change, that forced us all to take stock.

In lockdown, I have barely spent any money. My car has barely moved off the drive. I haven’t beaten myself up about all the things I ought to be doing with the children at the weekend. I have just given them my time.

In that sense, we are all the better for it. So yesterday, when non-essential shops reopened their doors, I thought to myself, what with the things in those non-essential shops being, you know, non-essential, maybe I didn’t actually need to go shopping so much ever again?

I expect this is wrong of me. Unkind to the economy. But I’ve always been of the mindset that if something comes along that you don’t like or weren’t expecting, you can rail against it all you want for a bit, but will be much better off if you come out of it feeling that you have learned something; something you would never have arrived at if the bad thing had never happened at all.

Those shoppers who returned to Primark at the first opportunity must have felt a strong urge to go back to normal; so strong that they didn’t see any indignity in rushing off for a shopping frenzy at the first opportunity, despite everything that has happened these past four months.

I understand the sense of release to an extent. But rather than rushing back to the old normal, I can’t help but wish instead that people had used the opportunity to create a new normal. A better normal. And if you must shop, why not shop local, rather than visiting a store whose record of caring for its workers in the past hasn’t exactly been the best advert for #blacklivesmatter, has it?

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