With the Coronavirus pandemic, our ways of shopping have changed. Many of our favorite stores have closed, whether it be temporarily or permanently, and the ones that are still open have strict rules regarding face masks and social distancing. The one part of shopping that hasn’t changed is window shopping.
Window shopping or window browsing is a famous pastime for shoppers of all kinds. It gives customers a chance to look at a store’s products or services while walking by. The shopper may intend to go inside and buy something, or they may want to continue to the next store without buying anything.
Some shoppers use window shopping as a tool to gauge an item’s price. Others use the featured product as a guide on what is popular or not.
No matter what, window shopping can be a fun experience for any shopper, even with an on-going pandemic. As long as you follow social distancing and wear face masks, you should be in the clear. Let’s take a quick look at this activity’s history before diving into some window shopping tips.
History of Window Shopping
Window shopping became a popular form of recreation during the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe. As the middle class began forming its distinct group in the social hierarchy, more and more people started buying products that exceeded basic necessities, particularly luxury items. This meant instead of walking into a store, buying exactly what you needed and leaving, people would start browsing around and buying items they wanted, not needed. Shopping itself became a pleasurable activity and not something that needed to happen in order to survive.
This was particularly true for women, such as housewives; they no longer needed a chaperone to shop in town, even if they ended up not buying anything.
With the change in shoppers’ attitudes, European stores began installing glazed windows throughout the 18th century. Previously, shop owners would have a main entrance to the shop with two openings on the side that were covered with shutters. These shutters would open to form a canopy while the bottom section with legs would evolve into a shopboard to display products and serve customers.
Pane Glass Windows
By utilizing a pane glass window, shop owners could now feature their products and entice customers inside. Shop owners could draw in customers by highlighting a specialty product or setting up a cozy, safe display, making the customer eager to get off the street and go inside for an up-close peek. Some shops would even install windows that ran the full length of their store for maximum display space. Decorators and window dresses were hired to attractively arrange products in the windows to increase customer interaction.
From there, window shopping became a popular pastime for shoppers. People could look at items they desired and dream about and not spend a penny. It was also a good excuse to spy on others and see who was shopping and for what products. Many combined socializing and window shopping into one so they could knock out two birds with one stone.
Tips and Hints
As mentioned before, even with the COVID-19 pandemic, window shopping does not need to go away. You can still enjoy looking at products and services without going inside.
Here are some tips:
1. Ask yourself why you are going window shopping.
Are you looking for next season’s fashion? Do you want to compare prices between two stores? Maybe you are looking for decorating inspirations from a furniture store. Perhaps you are simply bored and want to look at colorful products for a while. Whatever your reasoning is, first try to narrow down why you are going so you can figure out there where.
2. Find your perfect place to window shop based on your goals.
Obviously, a mall or outdoor strip or even a furniture market is your best bet, but do some research to see where you might accomplish your window shopping goals. You want to go somewhere with lots of variety and options; that way you can do all your window shopping in one place. For example, Sunset Plaza in West Hollywood has over 50 boutiques, restaurants, beauty services and more, so you will never be bored with what you see.
3. Dress comfortably and appropriately.
Walking around in hot weather or cold wind can be exhausting, especially if you aren’t dressed correctly. Wear shoes that you are okay walking around in for several hours. If it looks like rain or wind, you might want to dress in layers or try for indoor window shopping.
4. Take your time.
Since window shopping is a leisure activity, don’t feel rushed. Make sure you can browse as much or as little as you want. Feel free to stop at every single window display that catches your attention; take a moment to ask yourself why the window caught your attention and what you like about it. You can also take as many breaks as you want.
5. Bring friends, even if it is virtually.
Now, COVID-19 has put a bit of a damper on hanging out with groups of people, but you can always bring along your pals via Skype or Zoom. Friends can make shopping more pleasurable by providing their opinions. However, make sure your friends are there to window shop with you and look at the same kind of stores. It can be difficult going with someone that only wants to shop at one type of store.
6. Compare and contrast.
If you are looking to eventually buy something, take pictures or notes on the product, its price, where it is available for purchasing and any other information you might find helpful. For example, let’s say you are looking for an amazing dress for a movie premiere and you go shopping at Sunset Plaza. You might want to take note of several dresses you try on at different stores, what the dresses cost and where they are located so you can go back and buy the perfect one.