The online shopper’s guide to the lockdown

AKA you don’t need to buy that

I hear you, it’s a really stressful time. Your elderly relatives seem quite literally to be in mortal peril at all times, you are trapped in your home, and the future of your degree, indeed the world, remains uncertain and scary. And you know what will make you feel briefly better in this anxiety-inducing time? Shopping. Except, do not be fooled, my friends, for while pressing checkout will bring a temporary whoosh of endorphins, if you keep frivolously ordering fripperies on a whim to lift your mood, you will be left with a pile of crap and a bank balance that will make you wince. So, to help you on your way here is a guide from one Cantab who is continuously tempted by tat to another.

Survival gear and stockpiling:

Why you don’t need it: Love, you aren’t Bear Grylls and this isn’t the apocalypse, calm down.

A huge pile of books:

Even this is too many books to have unread (they were presents, I promise)

Why you don’t need it: Yes, reading is a good way to pass time stuck at home and will make you feel good about yourself for doing something other than scrolling through Instagram. However, fail to be a little cautious and you will end up with an intimidating pile of 20 books which you have not read. You DO NOT NEED 20 books at a time. Instead of buying all the books you want to read, just because you want them now, make a list of them and then buy them one at a time as you actually read them. Or, even better, borrow them from your local library as eBooks.

An enormous amount of exercise equipment:

Why you don’t need it: If you want to get fit then fine, knock yourself out but you DO NOT NEED to spend £50 on GraceFitUK’s home gym essentials. Start with no-equipment home workouts on YouTube for which you only need a bit of floor space (which preferably does not have a mirror nearby because if you see yourself in one you will very quickly realise that you do not look sexy like the woman in the video does but instead look like an uncoordinated, red, sweaty sealion. This will immediately make you want to own cute sportswear like the woman in the video but owning a coordinating Puma sports bra and leggings will not make you look sexy, you will just look like an uncoordinated, red, sweaty sealion in a lavender matching set and that, my friends, is yet more money wasted so just avoid mirrors while exercising).

This is meant to be a disapproving face but the weights are my mother’s (using your parent’s midlife crisis exercise equipment is okay as it makes sense economically)


Why you don’t need it: This is just a classic means of spending to try and cheer yourself up. But let’s face it, this is a lockdown and nobody is going to see you the whole time so you DO NOT NEED that £70 dress which would be just perfect for a special occasion. Although I will confess that this one is more of a practice what I say, not what I do thing because I just bought a t-shirt with a rocket on it and you know what? I’m not mad about it.

Now the May Balls are cancelled where do you think you will wear this?

Endless takeaways

Why you don’t need it: Here we combine comfort eating and stress buying to create one monster rush of endorphins. There is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying a takeaway but you DO NOT NEED to do this every night. For the sake of both your bank balance and your diet try and be conscious of how often you are eating takeaways. As a rule of thumb, if the Deliveroo driver treats you as a friend then you are ordering too often.

Nintendo Switch and Animal Crossing

Why you don’t need it: This one is weirdly specific Caitlin, you are thinking. Have you been watching endless let’s plays of the new Animal Crossing game which have been making you want to drop £250 on a Switch and the game? Yes I have, and to be honest a lot of you have probably been tempted too, if not by the Switch then by something similar (my friend just bought an Xbox One). It seems valid to want to buy something to entertain yourself during lockdown but you DO NOT NEED to spend huge sums to do this as you had to entertain yourself before the lockdown too and you were able to do this without spending £300 at the drop of a hat. I think the urge to escape into a different, more innocent or fantastical world is really understandable at the moment but you just don’t need to spend that much to do it.

I managed to entertain myself with this lego kit I found in a cupboard.

Look, the point of this article is not to shame you or make you feel guilty. If buying new stuff helps you get through then do what you have to do. Just try and be a bit conscious of why you are buying something and if it is just to make you feel happy then be aware that excessive shopping, like many things in life, brings only a brief rush of happiness before the regret kicks in.

Cover image: Elaine Smith Flickr, other images author’s own.