From Brenda in Hove: Pyjamas, flip-flops and false eyelashes

3 October

The UK is now recording its highest case levels since the beginning of July and a quarter of the population are back in lockdown. The so-called second wave has arrived. It is rather confusing as to what the exact rules are, what is permitted and what is not and even the Prime Minister is confused on this last point – but then detail has never been his strong point. If you are over 70 years old, as we are, everybody would be best pleased if we just stayed at home, as ‘shielded’ as we can manage.

So now we can all go back to whatever we were doing in through those rather long months of summer and brace ourselves for the very different conditions of winter. One of those occupations was shopping – mostly online. A headline caught my eye recently: “pyjamas, flip-flops and false eyelashes” and the article was about what have been the best sellers during lockdown. There have been several articles on this topic.

Pyjamas, ‘loungewear’, ‘sleepwear’, were high on most lists. It seems that if you couldn’t go out, some people didn’t see the point of getting out of their pyjamas at all. The various lists change the narrative a bit. Some described the buying of ‘mock neck tops’ (“business on the top, chill on the bottom” – including flip-flops, I presume), others call the trend “Zoom dressing”. I have to admit being part of the business of making sure my top half is respectable enough for a business meeting and not being anything but comfortable for my lower half. As the months progress, I notice my colleagues online are relaxing their standards altogether and just wearing fleeces and sweaters and whatever it is one wears at home. Why not? The quality of our meetings has certainly not suffered at all.

The lists are quite predictable. Near the top is anything connected to fitness: bicycles (also saw an article about more being stolen!), treadmills, weights, trampolines, and gym wear, etc. Sales of plants (but especially tomato plants (who knew?)), compost (at one point it was almost impossible to get this where I live), garden stuff like hot tubs (Argos report this one) and fire pits were all popular items.

It seems DIY was big during those long months and DIY stores report a boost in their sales. This included “storage solutions” (John Lewis) and the related activity of clearing out and tidying up could be seen when the dumps and recycle sites were allowed to open. They reported enormous spikes in their use. The one near us had waiting queues lasting several hours – and there was no easy access for months.

I pursued the lists (for the sake of this blog, I have to say!) and was amused that the Financial Times had a somewhat different list. Top of their list was “drinkware” and “barware” (who knew these things had a collective noun?). Given that pubs were closed, it seems people were “creating their own bar experience” with friends online joining them via Zoom for a “quarantini”. I can’t say I am convinced by this explanation for creating bars in the house. Maybe we now know why lockdown didn’t exactly do the trick for corona. The rest of the FT list was: indoor plants, storage solutions, office furniture and candles. So precious.

Children’s toys figure on some lists – if you can call them toys any more: kid’s tablets and play stations.

I almost lost the will to live in my pursuit of these lists but I have to explain the false eyelashes: Instagram effect.  

Can I relate to these purchasing trends? Not in the least! If anything, we have an inverse relationship with them. All we want to do is get rid of things. Freecycle is our top site – and when I read there what people are looking for, the trends I have described don’t figure at all.

As the virus persists and the effects on the economy bite, the lists will inevitably change. In six months’ time I suspect the picture will be somewhat less cheery.

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