Deborah Ross: 'Shopping 'offline' is most convenient'

If you ask me, or were to ask me, in passing, if I had discovered the most wonderful way of shopping, I would have to sit you down and say: "Yes, as it happens. I have. And your question could not have been better timed. Well done, you."

This wonderful way of shopping does not yet have a specific name but, for our purposes, I think we can call it "shopping offline" and it is most convenient. To shop offline you must first go to "a shop", which usually comes in the form of a building made of bricks, and so actually exists, which sounds crazy, but it's true.

These "shops" are most commonly found on something called a "high street" along with other "shops" as well as a Starbucks, which has the one comfy sofa that is always occupied by somebody else. (Who are the people who always get the comfy sofa in Starbucks? Who? Who?)

Now, once you have located the shop which sells the goods you are seeking, you enter through a door, and once inside – get this – you can see the goods and touch them and TRY THEM ON (if clothes, rather than a camping stove, say, but it is entirely up to you) and if you then think: "Yes, I like this item. I will have it," you can buy it there and then and TAKE IT HOME WITH YOU, which is wonderful because then you don't have to wait in for a parcel that never arrives until you slip out for a minute, and then have to chase up via umpteen phone calls to a Royal Mail number no one answers, and several trips to several local Post Offices, while brandishing a council tax bill and trying not to cry.

After quite a few months of brandishing and weeping, you may eventually locate your parcel, which is always a joyous occasion marred only, perhaps, by the fact that the item turns out to be hateful, and much too small, and that goes for camping stoves as much as anything.

So, I cannot recommend shopping offline heartily enough, but will it catch on? I don't know, plus I rather think you have asked enough for one day. When I sat you down, I didn't expect you to stay forever, you know.

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