How shopping on the high street became a beloved Christmas ritual

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Hollie Richardson
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Women doing their Christmas shopping

Ready to do some Christmas shopping? Here’s why we need to use the high street more than ever in 2020.

The pandemic, and the two national lockdowns that have so far come with it, have hit the high street hard. Earlier this week, high street stalwart Arcadia Group announced it was going into administration. That means iconic stores that we’ve grown up with, including Topshop, Miss Selfridge and Dorothy Perkins could be no more. It came in the same week that Debenhams shared the news its department stores across the UK are set to close. 

As thousands of people worry about losing their jobs just weeks before Christmas, there’s also a deep national concern that the British high street just isn’t going to survive coronavirus, especially when the situation is compounded by the biggest recession on record

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For anyone who’s worked or shopped on the high street – which, I’m guessing, is most people reading this – it’s also an emotional and a personal blow. And, at this time of the year, it’s just so sad to think of Christmas without a high street. 

Ever since I was old enough to catch the bus and spend my pot-washer wage on presents for people, I’ve loved the annual ritual of Christmas shopping in town. I always stop off at Starbucks for a hot chocolate (of course I want whipped cream on that!), I always end up buying a gift that suits my interests rather than those of the person I’m buying it for, and choosing which wrapping paper to go for is like creating my own personal brand. And I love it all. Even when I worked in several high street stores before and during university, I thrived on the buzz of it all. 

I’d go as far to say that shopping on the high street and questioning all my choices on the bus home is one of my favourite things about Christmas. That’s why I won’t let the pandemic stop me from doing it this year. Sure, we need to adhere to social distancing and sanitising hands at every turn, but it’s totally worth it.

And I’m not the only one with a strong stance on this…

Woman doing Christmas shopping
Save the high street: Christmas shopping is one of the festive highlights.

Jazmin Kopotsha, digital deputy editor

“Shopping on the high street is part of my Christmas ritual. There’s an atmosphere and energy that drives you from shop to shop with much more purpose than I can muster flicking from tab to tab in internet shopping hell.

“It’s a rare day out that I secretly love to dread every year. You know it’s going to be a long, stressful process but, along with feeling like you’re part of this big, celebratory shared experience with all the other shoppers – swinging bags around and covering their eyes as they hand over their credit card for the ‘small present’ they spotted in the store window that Aunty Ann will just love – when you finally get home with all your treasures there’s a very specific feeling of satisfaction that you can’t get at any other time of year.”

Kayleigh Dray, digital editor-at-large

“There’s nothing I love more than the mania that is Christmas shopping on the high street. Me and my BFF tackled Oxford Street together last year like absolute legends, clocking up a whopping 18K steps. That feels a lifetime ago, though. 

“This year will be a slightly smaller affair: a trip to Reigate, a nip around the oneway system, a hot chocolate (or five), and as many presents as I can carry. I want to show my support for the high street, and I’ll be doing it in a festive-themed face mask, too.”

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Megan Murray, senior digital writer

“I’ve always loved little one-off boutiques and as Instagram has continued to take off as a shopping platform, I buy 90% of things for myself and gifts for other people from small brands I find on there… 

“BUT there is something special about a Christmas shopping stop to Liberty London. You won’t find me toiling in and out of shops on the high street all weekend to do my present buying, but I cannot resist walking down Carnaby Street and marvelling at the unique theme chosen for the Christmas lights, before wandering around Liberty and getting something so that I can carry one of those deep purple bags out of there.”

As well as doing a bit of IRL Christmas shopping, you can show support for the high street through these organisations:

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Images: Getty


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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…