Like most people, we watched in shock as the prime minister announced a full lockdown of our nation back in March.
We saw shops and restaurants shuttered with no knowledge of when they might open again. We watched the news as once-bustling roads and streets became eerily quiet.
For a while, Britain in the age of coronavirus was somewhere quite frightening. As we holed ourselves up at home and tried to come up with ways of juggling childcare, home schooling and work, we worried about what the future might hold (as well as where our next loo roll might come from).
But then something remarkable started to happen. Confined to barracks as we were, with our wings clipped and no excuse to leave our own towns and cities, we began to open our eyes and really see the communities in which we live.
Children drew rainbows for windows; neighbours picked up groceries for each other; we clapped for the NHS and, as we stood on our doorsteps, we struck up real conversations with other people, our previously anonymous neighbours.
These interactions and this sense of community made a bad time more bearable. It sparked joy when, quite frankly, joy was in pretty short supply.
And there was one other positive impact from this period of lockdown: we shopped locally. Robbed of many of our big brands, we discovered bread from the bakery down the road, fresh produce from the greengrocers – and so much more in the process.
Last week, think-tank Demos revealed it is launching a nationwide study to “find ways to hold on to the changes we value” from lockdown, including “increased community connection”.
So this is where we would like to urge everyone, as shops reopen on June 15th 2020, not to consign this ‘Blitz spirit’ to the past. Instead, let’s continue being mindful and supportive, particularly about where we spend our money.
Here at Oceanic, we supply many small jewellery stores that have been closed since March. Plenty of them have had to rely on government support to remain afloat and some will be worried about the coming months, even as they prepare to reopen in a week’s time.
Therefore, instead of getting in the car next weekend and heading straight to the big brands for your clothes, costume jewellery and other treats, could you consider visiting your local gift shop or boutique?
They’re taking great pains to be COVID-secure and they need your help to get back on their feet. And, as we know from our interactions with our jewellery buyers, they’re always on-trend and keen to stock the latest styles, so you won’t be missing out fashion-wise.
As we emerge into a new world, our idea of what counts as good value is shifting, so let’s keep it going: #shoplocal and give your community a boost post-lockdown.