/ Shopping

Why do you love your favourite shops?

Woman holding shopping bags

Every year, we spend more of our money shopping online and less on the high street. Yet many of us still have our favourite shops that we return to again and again. What makes the best shops worth visiting?

The boom in online shopping is showing no signs of slowing down. We spent £615m on the internet in September of this year – an increase of 19% on the same period in 2012, according to the Office of National Statistics.

£1 in every £10 we spend now happens online. That’s projected to grow to £1 in every £7 spent by 2018, according to recent estimates from retail consultancy Verdict.

We all know the reasons why. Few high street shops, especially independents, can compete with giants like Amazon on price or range of products. And there’s plenty to be said from shopping for the comfort of your home, without the need to brave the unpredictable British weather or find somewhere to park.

But I wouldn’t want to do all my shopping online, because there are some high street shops I enjoy visiting in ways that a website can’t replicate. So why do some shops continue to attract us?

My favourite shops

The friendliness and knowledge of the staff is a big reason why I visit my favourite shops. You can choose from an almost limitless range of beer online, but I know that the owner of my local off-licence is discerning enough to only stock the best bottles. And if I’m looking for a particular type of beer, or am torn between two choices, he’ll be happy to give me personalised advice.

My local DIY shop has an eccentric charm that always makes it a pleasure to visit. It’s a series of small, narrow passageways with walls covered from floor to ceiling with an endless variety of screws, light bulbs and cables, seemingly at random. Yet all you need to do is tell the staff what you’re looking for and they’ll somehow know exactly where to find it among the enormous mass of items.

So tell us about your favourite shops. What do they offer that’s special and makes you want to continue visiting?


My favourite shop is John Lewis, although I rarely shop there since online retailing became widespread. There is one product that I have always preferred to buy from John Lewis – televisions, because they include a 5-year warranty at no extra charge. Although John Lewis is famously “never knowingly undersold”, they don’t price-match online retailers, so it’s often cheaper to buy products from small independent online retailers instead. I was delighted when I submitted an undersale request last week to John Lewis for a television that I had found cheaper online. Because the online retailer has just one physical shop in the whole country, John Lewis agreed to price-match it, saving me £125. I was delighted to be able to buy from my most trusted retailer and to receive a 5-year warranty but to pay the cheapest online price I could find. Perfect.

KittyFondue says:
5 November 2013

My favourite shop is Primrose Hill Books. I used to work just across the street from the bookshop so would go in practically every lunch hour. The owner, Jess, got to know me and she was always ready to talk about the latest books or make a suggestion for something for me to read – I’d go in and say things like, ‘I feel I want a book set in St Petersburg …’ or ‘I’d like a story about memory’ and she’d always have a suggestion. I moved job so haven’t been able to get to the shop in a while but I’ve always thought, this is what a bookshop should be. Run by people who just love books and are willing to talk about it!

Clive Sinclair says:
8 November 2013

Another vote for John Lewis. A good range of products from various brands – generally of high quality. Our household income is less that £35,000 a year, so not well off. I prefer to buy a few higher quality items that will last – rather than get ripped off by other High St retailers who claim to sell quality products, but are actually made in sweat shops and just overpriced.

Staff are always helpful and friendly.