DAME HELENA MORRISEY: Let's spend for Britain

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Let’s spend for Britain: DAME HELENA MORRISEY says visiting a thriving High Street will allow Britons to chat and feel they’re really living again

At long last our dormant High Streets, poised for their glorious spring awakening, are ready to burst into new life.

From Monday, after months condemned to dreary online clothes shopping, we can once again enjoy browsing racks of summer styles. We can feel the fabrics and appreciate the nuances of colour.

We can take an armful of different sizes into a changing room and try on clothes again before we buy, as we did pre-Covid.

I’m excited. Who would have thought clothes shopping could become such a treat? But that’s what happens when, for months, we’ve bought everything from websites and taken delivery of items that often don’t live up to expectations.

I’m excited. Who would have thought clothes shopping could become such a treat? But that’s what happens when, for months, we’ve bought everything from websites and taken delivery of items that often don’t live up to expectations, writes Dame Helena Morrissey

I’m excited. Who would have thought clothes shopping could become such a treat? But that’s what happens when, for months, we’ve bought everything from websites and taken delivery of items that often don’t live up to expectations, writes Dame Helena Morrissey

It’s either the cut that’s wanting or the fit, the fabric that’s cheap-looking or the colour isn’t what it seemed online. Then, of course, there’s the bother of parcelling it up and returning it.

So, I’m celebrating the great re-opening. My husband and I live in London’s Notting Hill with seven of our nine children, and High Street Kensington is nearest for clothes shopping.

Our youngest Bea, 12, and Cecily, 13, are already plotting our first girls’ day out. I expect Westfield shopping centre will be involved, then I’ll visit the Zara store in Kensington to look for jeans: the only pair I have left has a giant hole in the knee.

From Monday, after months condemned to dreary online clothes shopping, we can once again enjoy browsing racks of summer styles. We can feel the fabrics and appreciate the nuances of colour. Pictured: Shoppers on Oxford Street

From Monday, after months condemned to dreary online clothes shopping, we can once again enjoy browsing racks of summer styles. We can feel the fabrics and appreciate the nuances of colour. Pictured: Shoppers on Oxford Street

We can take an armful of different sizes into a changing room and try on clothes again before we buy, as we did pre-Covid (stock photo)

We can take an armful of different sizes into a changing room and try on clothes again before we buy, as we did pre-Covid (stock photo)

I’m also planning to browse in Harvey Nichols’ luxurious designer floors and see what my favourite British label Roksanda has in store. Plus a visit to M&S for underwear then Brora, the Scottish fashion house, as three of my beautiful cashmere cardigans have succumbed to moths.

It’s no coincidence that so many of us regard shopping as retail therapy: studies show it causes your brain to release more serotonin, the feel-good chemical.

We’re social creatures, and a visit to a thriving High Street will allow us to chat to people and feel we’re really living again.

I’m celebrating the great re-opening. My husband and I live in London’s Notting Hill with seven of our nine children, and High Street Kensington is nearest for clothes shopping

I’m celebrating the great re-opening. My husband and I live in London’s Notting Hill with seven of our nine children, and High Street Kensington is nearest for clothes shopping

An outing to the shops is an experience, not just a transaction. If there’s a buzz in our High Streets, people will be attracted to them, shops will feel confident about hiring, entrepreneurs will think about opening up new businesses.

The industry has been hit hard: the British Retail Consortium says UK stores are down £27billion in lost sales during the three lockdowns, while the Centre for Retail Research this month revealed 188,685 retail jobs have gone between the start of the first lockdown and March 31 this year.

Shops might celebrate their re-opening with discounts or treats. We don’t need to splurge excessively, just to ‘get back out there’ and spend our pounds in the shops rather than online.

My message is unequivocal: we need our High Streets just as much as they need us.

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