Why retail parks make me sad

On Boxing Day I went out to the retail park a mile or so down the road from me to exchange some Christmas presents at Next. It made me quite sad, and not just because it was raining so heavily that my fur coat ended up looking like a cat that had fallen into a bath. (That bit was my fault for not dressing more sensibly).

Retail parks are just so soulless, so lacking in any sort of character or hope or joy. The name gets your hopes up falsely too. Retail park. You go there feeling positive, and then there’s not even any swings or slides or things to climb on, (other than parked cars), and no rolling green hills or nature trails. It’s all just a big trick.

It was about 3.30pm by the time we went to Next, and inside the shop was just as depressing, with half empty rails of unwanted clothes and stickers on the floor showing people where to stand to wait for hours to hand over their cash. At least by late afternoon it was quiet – in the morning the store had been operating a ‘one in one out’ system, so desperate were people to get out of the house and scramble about between the racks of odd-shaped jeans, available only in sizes 6 or 20.

Retail parks make me imagine conversations like this:

Mummy: So darling, what do you want to do when you grow up?

Small girl with pigtails: Well Mummy, I want to work the majority of my working hours in a job that I find tedious at best, and then in my free time I’m going to go to a vast expanse of concrete on the outskirts of town and give all the money I earn to large corporations who already have more than they need, in return for some disposable crap I don’t want.

Mummy (fixed smile and empty eyes): Well that sounds lovely sweetheart.

Small girl with pigtails (small silent tear running down cheek): I’m going to be just like you Mummy.

Now I could well be reading too much into this – I do have a tendency to overdramatise – but I can’t help it. Surrounded by blank faced parents, staring at the piles of cheap TVs, wondering which to buy to sit their bored looking children in front of, I can’t help but want to throw myself onto the nearest cut-price blender.

Am I over reacting? How do retail parks make you feel?



  1. olivia kirby
    28 December, 2012 / 7:54 pm

    I hate shops of all sorts. There’s no retail park near enough to me to go often, they are definitely places we go only if we need something specific. We always get Mothercare vouchers from a relative for Christmas and it saddens me deeply that they cannot be used online! I contemplated selling it on Ebay to avoid going to the shops!!!

    • 31 December, 2012 / 9:21 am

      Gosh, Mothercare are missing a trick there! You’d think there would just be a number you could type in or something…

  2. 28 December, 2012 / 8:03 pm

    I like retail parks, they are quick, easy, I don’t have to fight my way through 25 sets of traffic lights and spend hours in traffic and it’s free to park. Having to fork out a fiver to spend 90 minutes in town depresses me!

    • 31 December, 2012 / 9:22 am

      That’s very true about the parking – it is nice and easy to just go and park in front of the shop you want to go in! Perhaps I’m being too specific and actually I just hate all shops :-)

  3. 29 December, 2012 / 12:06 pm

    Retail in general makes me sad. It’s just “selling tat” on the whole. I’m sick and tired of selling, advertising and all commercialism. If I want it I’ll go find it. If it’s advertised blatantly I won’t use it etc.

    As for retail parks specifically why bother? Just buy online.

    • 31 December, 2012 / 9:23 am

      I tend to agree with you Steve. At the moment anyway. It’s weird because in the run up to Christmas, when I SHOULD feel like that, I don’t feel overwhelmed by it at all, then come Boxing Day it’s like a switch being flicked and I can’t bear it.

  4. rinsimpson
    31 December, 2012 / 11:02 am

    I’m so with you on this. And this is exactly why my New Year’s resolution for 2013 is to buy only from independent retailers unless I absolutely have to. I’d far rather take a little longer doing my shopping and keep the butcher, the baker and the greengrocer going, or pick up unique clothes, accessories and homewares from local designers who need my money far more than the high street does. It will be a challenge, but I’m looking forward to it!

  5. 6 January, 2013 / 7:31 pm

    I agree, I hate retail parks. Not only do they have no character, they are uninspiring and none of the staff ever look like they want to be there. I try and avoid wasting my money on mass made tat and would much rather shop in independent stores. I’m even beginning to turn my nose up at supermarkets! Whilst farm shops, greengrocers, butchers etc may be more expensive, they are definitely worth it!

  6. 2 February, 2016 / 10:32 am

    TOTALLY agree with you. Wandering around a market town with a scattering of nationals and more independents is SO much lovelier. I also hate the fact that our national pastime seems to be shopping. We live in a beautiful country that the majority of us never explore or appreciate because we’re too busy shopping (or working).

  7. 2 February, 2016 / 12:47 pm

    Well as a man I am quite happy to fall into the stereotype of hating shopping in all of it’s forms, so pretty much go along with everything you say. On the other hand retail parks can usefully shorten the shopping ordeal by enabling people to get everything they need as quickly as possible and put the whole experience down to a necessary evil.

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