It looks like there is finally a flicker of light at the end of this global tunnel of gloom. As from today, the cogs of inessential retail start to turn and we can ditch the virtual shopping and hit the high street in earnest. I'm heading for Brent Cross, Mecca of shopping and socialising for North-West London’s Jews.
It’s the place where new mums go for solace and strolling when their babies won’t stop crying; a winter retreat on a frosty day. It’s retail therapy within a ten-minute drive. You can’t go there without bumping into a friend. It’s not quite my second home, but a definite contender.
In fact, I even went there in lockdown. When boredom and cabin-fever set in, I spent a happy hour with my daughter browsing in a deserted Boots, buying stuff we do not need (false nails, shower hat) and surfing the aisles of a thinly frequented, but well-stocked Waitrose, emerging with 16 bottles of sparkling water to get us through the heat-wave.
But how is the “new normal” Brent Cross going to look? With cafés chair-free, coffees and chats with our girlfriends are off. Queuing is standard, so no more dashing in for those last-minute gifts or yom tov outfits. Reality check — when it comes to shops, dashing is over, along with “popping” and “nipping”. A shopping strategy is key, as you will be flowing in a one way system. Unless you are keen to reach your 10,000 steps with several turns round the centre, hone your decision making skills. It’s now or never as there’s no turning back.
Yet, I doubt all this will deter us and there may even be some benefits. No changing rooms for example — a blessing for those whose love of big mirrors ended when they were eight years old.
So Iet’s welcome back shopping and browsing and I’m even prepared to queue. Masks at the ready — I’ll see you in John Lewis.