How is the new year, or rather this leap year treating you?? Leap years have fascinated me for reasons not known. Of course, for those uninitiated, the concept behind a February having 29 days is that our earth takes 365 & 1/4 days to complete 1 revolution and so to make up for the lost time, 1 more day is added to February once in 4 years. Every leap year is also the year of Olympics. If one is born on Feb 29, how will he/she celebrate the birthday every year?? Of course, you have no option but to celebrate on March 1st, but the confusion will always persist.
Now, coming to the main topic, shopping is an integral part of life, be it in any form. Shopping is nothing but the activity of purchasing goods from the shops. But the activity of purchasing goods from the shops have been redefined from time to time. Before the arrival of monetary system, goods were bought and sold on the basis of barter system. Merchants travelled all over the world by roads, deserts, ships to sell their goods through barter system and later on through the coin system. Through the centuries, the nature of shopping went under various stages of evolution and it is still evolving to this date!What was more common during my childhood is becoming obscure today and what was not there before is the buzz word in shopping world today. The online world of shopping was something unheard of about 20 years back. Who would have thought then that many shopping and retail outlets will be affected badly with the advent of online shopping?
Shopping has become more of a woman's domain as she is aware of the needs of the whole family. Women also come under the group of 'compulsive shoppers' which should relieve them of the stress of everyday lives. I, being a woman, am not a shopaholic and have no patience to roam around the shops endlessly. I have mentioned in one of my earlier articles that shopping is not in my blood and it bores me. I go to jewelry shops like an alien! Maybe one of the reasons is that I don't need to invest in jewelry for future and that is why the interest did not develop. I am not crazy about gold jewelry and diamonds, and I would be happy to keep on buying funky jewelry!
Before the advent of the online world and also cars about 30 years back, the shops we had around were pop and mom or grocery stores which used to cater to most of our needs, and some handful of department stores or supermarkets whose sizes were nothing compared to the present day mega supermarkets or hypermarkets like Metro, D Mart, Walmart, More. During those days, the middle class families were modest and the needs were much simpler. As the communication devices like telephone, cell phones were less or non existent and also private vehicles, our parents or grandparents had no option but to go by public transports to buy things. Our moms used to go with their friends or neighbours to share the burden or the pleasure of shopping and thus automatic friendship or bonding used to be there between the neighbours who will be living in the opposite or adjacent compounds. That strong, invisible bonding survives even today between them even though many would have migrated to various places to be with their children.
As a woman's priorities have changed from 'just housewife' to a full-fledged career woman, the old ways of shopping have taken a beating. In metro cities and two-tier cities, the grocery shopping is done over a weekend or once a month in hypermarkets or super markets by enduring the long serpentine queues with tots sitting on the shopping cart. Though these markets cater to most of our needs, I don't feel that it gives the pleasure of doing shopping on the roadside shops and with vendors. The so-called bargaining gene is ingrained in the Indian mentality and that can be done only with the roadside vendors in our adjacent street and not in the supermarkets. The multitude of things arranged in the never-ending shelves in a supermarket do not seem to make connection with us. On the other hand, I have felt that one can strike a chord with those roadside vendors and those who run pop & mom stores. The 'non-working' women who go out together to shop after finishing the household chores in the morning have reduced as people do not know who lives in the next flat.
To make our busy lives even simpler, lots of online shops have sprouted up who are ready to deliver items at our doorstep. This sure saves us a lot of time that takes to commute to the shops and one can devote their weekend time to spend as a family and also to pursue other passions and interests. Many online retail giants like Flipkart, Jabong, Myntra, Amazon, eBay, Snapdeal practice 'return policy-no questions asked' which makes it all the more convenient to go ahead and use these sites. As these sites are offering highly branded items at a much cheaper or competitive rate, the existing shops have taken a beating as the so called customers compare the pricing and then buy them online. Book shops are slowly going out of business as books can be easily purchased online. As the online shopping evolves everyday through various apps, there are lot of things that still need to be purchased directly from the shops as they require the feel and touch before purchasing. It is to be watched how the shopping scenario will change drastically in future. A few words about malls around us.... Malls have become places to hang out during weekends where movies are watched in multiplex theaters and eateries thrive. The shops in the malls mostly look empty as people do not go there for real shopping.
Meanwhile, this article is from a person who is not an ardent shopper. I would like to spend time at the stalls put up at fairs.
P.S. Next article to watch out....'Isle of Man'!!!