To say life in the UK has completely changed in the last few weeks is an understatement. The way we work, socialise and shop have altered dramatically. One thing I have noticed that is still dividing opinion is shopping. MSE summed this up yesterday with the following dilemma:
Two weeks ago, I placed an order with Muscle Food, this was around the time when the shops were slowly descending into chaos with panic buyers stocking up on anything they could get their hands on. Ordering online was much more convenient and it seemed to me, that I would be one less person adding to the chaos in the supermarkets.
With that in mind, I decided to treat myself to a hamper of wine from The Sunday Times Wine Club. It was a no-brainer, I didn’t need to face the ridiculous crowds plus, it worked out more cost effective thanks to some new customer offers. I got a box of 12 bottles of wine and two wine tumblers for £54.99 including delivery, I thought it was great!
My deliveries have since arrived and although I am glad I placed the orders, they are now weighing a little heavy on my conscience. In the time it’s taken for my goods to arrive, working life has changed significantly… Most of us are safe at home in some capacity, others no longer have jobs they considered secure, there are those working front-line jobs and then there are the more invisible and forgotten key workers. The ones in warehouses and those out delivering the orders we place.
I think we are often blissfully ignorant to the fact that there are a whole host of people involved in picking and packing of the product we order online. Equally, those that handle them from the warehouse to our front door rarely get a second thought. The perception is that it is safer and more convenient to order online, especially in the current circumstances. Of course it is safe for us ordering from home, but it might not be for those dealing with online orders.
Since this realisation, I’ve made a personal choice to stop ordering non-essential items online, that includes things like free samples from sponsored ads and other deals I would usually snap up. One thing I am still completely torn about is shopping online for essentials. I don’t know if I should go to shops or get goods delivered. Both pose a risk to others and I unsure which to do for the best. Luckily I don’t need anything at the moment but the moral quandary is still there.
This is why it is so tricky at the moment. I have seen lots of disagreements and arguments on social media about this very topic which is why I was glad to see Money Saving Expert asking the same question. I’ve seen people say ban online shopping altogether and others saying ‘Stay Home at all costs, shop online’. Both points are equally as valid.
Stopping all online shopping is definitely not the answer. There are a huge number of people that rely on being able to order online, those who are housebound, those with no child care, those with no transport to get to the nearest shops… Then there are those workers on zero hours contacts, that for the first time in a long time, are grateful for the extra work and income they have – not that that makes it okay. Of course, there are the businesses themselves that are relying on cash flow to keep them afloat.
Unfortunately, allowing all essential online retailers to remain trading is creating an issue all of its own. It seems to have opened up a loophole for a large number of companies to continue trading under the guise that they are providing much needed, essential goods. The fact is the majority of items that some of these stores sell are of no use during a pandemic whatsoever. I won’t name any but you can probably think of a few off the top of your head.
Stores such as Next have made the moral decision to cease trading to allow their employees to stay safe at home. That is despite the fact they are allowed to continue trading as they sell items deemed to be essential goods. This action came after those in charge listened to the concerns of their staff. This speaks volumes. It also suggests there are a lot more workers out there, still going to work every day, who would much rather be at home with their families.
So what can we do in this weird situation? There still needs to be money flowing through businesses to keep the economy going, but we must also look out for the health of each individual to help reduce the spread of Covid-19. It seems completely impossible to be able to do both. Of course I don’t have an answer or a solution – I’m not sure anyone does.
A few days ago I asked my Instagram followers for their thought’s on this topic, you can see what they said below, I’ve kept opinions anonymous so no one is vilified for their opinion because all of them are equally valid. I’d love to know your thoughts too, you can share them in the comments at the end of this post.