Opinion

Is it just me…

…or does Christmas come around faster and faster each year!?

BY JULIAN LONG

I am convinced someone is stealing months! It feels like it was literally only a few weeks ago that I was unpacking the suitcases from our family holiday to Mallorca in August and now I am panicking about what I have (inevitably!) neglected to buy those same family members for Christmas!

Thank goodness for the internet! I recognize that statement may still sit a little uncomfortably with some readers of this publication, but I for one know that, without it, my domestic circumstances would be a whole lot less peaceful this festive time! Online retail has proved to be a truly great ally in the “making sure everyone gets a present,” campaign. Tim Berners-Lee, you have my sincere gratitude!!

Like ACROSS readers, a great deal of my professional, and indeed personal, life revolves around shopping centers. Very few weeks go by when I am not in one, be that in the United Kingdom, Europe, or even the Middle East. Indeed, when in London, my flat is accessed by walking through a certain high profile mall! At this time of year, the modern European shopping center can be a great place to immerse yourself in the general festive cheer that abounds and, with the ever more impressive lights and grottos that are installed for our delight (well done to all of you creative people out there responsible for these installations!), it’s hard not to come out feeling almost like Santa himself!

There is a problem that upsets this otherwise festive picture, however, and I know of many a man (mostly!), who will join me when I confess to all that I am a truly appalling shopper! Christmas for me should be a breeze. I am always in shopping centers; I work with shopping center experts every day, retail is a constant presence in my life, so why – when the pressure is on and I really need to deliver – do I develop a distressing inability to think, find, and buy? I have watched my wife do it all year round and she is good… Really good! Just ask Barclaycard!

Crucially, this affliction only strikes me in the physical world. I have found that in the virtual shopping world I am a complete keyboard warrior! A shopping ninja! No handbag (for the wife, I should stress!) is too tricky to choose, no doll or action hero too daunting to “add to my basket.” With bank card in hand, I clean up in minutes and sit back to admire my handiwork! I long for the familiar front door bell to chime and for Santa (wearing a DHL outfit), to arrive. Success!

So I have to confess that, while I am a genuine fan of shopping centers, I fail miserably to use them properly! Despite year after year saying “I will plan better,” I am always that person on December 23 who reaches out with panic for the laptop to save me. With that admission off my chest, I hope that I will not now be banished from the wonderful shopping center arena!!

Most of you will be reading this with Christmas 2015 now behind you. I hope you all had a great time and more success shopping than me! Finally, could I ask the person who has stolen the months September to November to kindly put them back so that I can plan to do better in the physical retail world for Christmas 2016!

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