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Why Big Shops Have Lost my Patronage

Updated on March 17, 2017

Why don't the Big Stores have Clothes for people?

Wedding Outfit
Wedding Outfit | Source

The Problem With Big Store Shopping

Department Store Shopping

I have almost stopped going into the big shops - the department stores here in the United Kingdom. They don’t have what I want, they don’t give me the choice I want and they don’t want to hear what I have to say! And then they wonder why they are not making sales and not making money? Which stores do I mean? In the United Kingdom, I am talking about department stores, such as Marks and Spencer, Debenhams, John Lewis, House of Frazer and any similar big stores, that sell clothes.

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Do you find difficulty getting clothes you like in Big Stores?

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Underwired bra

Traditonal styled sports bras, one underwired, the other with "innovative" straps that keep coming undone!
Traditonal styled sports bras, one underwired, the other with "innovative" straps that keep coming undone! | Source

What is the Problem? Underwear first

Let me give you some examples. I have tried several times, recently to buy a bra from Marks and Spencer. I like a sports bra because it gives me good support and I am pretty active, even in my old age, so I like to be ready for a bit of action - even if it’s just chasing a grandchild round the local park. I have bought my underwear from Marks and Spencer for as long as I have had the money to purchase it myself - and that wasn’t yesterday. I prefer a more traditional style of bra. Not hard to obtain, you say? Well, first, I don’t want an underwired one - after a few washes, the wires tend to start poking out - that’s my experience anyway. I also don’t want a white one, I want black or a dark colour, even purple, dark mixed colours, anything, EXCEPT white.

Updated - my sister texted me the other day to say that Marks and Spencer had a sale on in their Sports Bras, if I was still looking for one. I had already been in the shop the previous week and not found what I wanted. Raced over to check out the website - and they didn't have my size!

Racer Back bra

Racer style bra
Racer style bra | Source

Sports Bras - down and dirty

Now, how many styles of bra are there? Well, there are cross over backs (racer backs) - have you ever tried getting one of those on or off after a sweaty sports session? You could do yourself a serious mischief or pull a muscle! Besides, most of my T shirts are NOT racer backs and I am of the generation that doesn’t expect to display bra straps outside the gym. There are also zip up front sports bras. Tried those - after a few hours wear, the zip digs into you something cruel. That’s another one sent to the charity shop. I understand that bras are a fashion commodity in some countries, well they are welcome to that commodity as far as I am concerned. What does that leave? It should leave the standard, traditional, everyday sports bra, in black. Can’t get it. Not made!

The bras I don't want

Traditional style bras but all in white. What about BLACK? Or Multicoloured?
Traditional style bras but all in white. What about BLACK? Or Multicoloured? | Source

Wrong Way to sell bras

Oh yes, I did get one recently, but I had to buy a white one to go with it. Why? They are only sold in packs of two, one black one white. “But I don’t want a white one”, I pointed out to the salesperson. “In fact, I would like two black ones” Yes, you’ve guessed it - if I wanted two black ones, I would have to take two white ones as well! And no, I couldn’t buy the two black ones and leave the two white ones for someone who only wanted white. I nearly refused point blank but I was desperate for decent support! The salesperson told me I could leave feedback on the website if I wanted. But the only feedback the website asks for does not include letting them know that you think their sales tactics leave a lot to be desired, or letting them know that their buyers are NOT providing what real people want to buy. If I went into a food shop to buy, let us say, a jar of mayonnaise, I might find an offer on with “buy one, get one free”, or “buy this and get that half price”. But the “get one free” would be a SIMILAR jar of mayonnaise, it wouldn’t be the low fat, if I were buying full fat or vice versa OR it would be my choice to get one of each, I wouldn’t be forced into taking what I didn’t want. Why should I be forced to take and pay for clothes I DON’T want, in order to obtain the ones I DO want?

I have tried some of the on line sports clothes retailers and found a black sports bra there but I would like to go back to Marks and Spencer because I know the sizing suits me. But until they sell what I want, I will have to go elsewhere.

Summer wedding outfit

Wedding Outfit from a smaller store
Wedding Outfit from a smaller store | Source


Here’s another example. Summer here - not often we get that - some years it skips us altogether, so when it’s here, we make the most of it. I had a wedding to go to and had saved up money for an outfit. As it was summer, I decided I would buy a summer dress as well. I am retired. At the moment, we may be the youngest retired generation with any money to spare. Debenhams was one of the shops I chose to try. Some lovely looking dresses, nice strong colours and colourful, just right for summer. Went to try one on - there must be something wrong with the mirror in the changing room - doesn’t look like me at all! Is it the mirror? Was it the style? No, I don’t have a model figure and I didn’t expect to look like one. The dress fitted but looked awful and I still don’t know if the designer had something against older women or if the mirror was flawed. And I only found one dress in the whole store that I even wanted to try. I also tried the House of Frazer - couldn’t find even ONE summer dress or a wedding outfit I wanted to try there.

I was still looking for a summer dress when I found the John Lewis site online. Wow! Lovely looking dresses and the web browser allowed me to choose my size, so I didn’t have to look through all their offers, most of which were too small for me - the model sizes are the ones that get left! OK, but every time I looked at a dress, the browser “forgot” my size for looking at the next one. After 10 times of entering my size, I gave up. No matter how nice the dresses looked, I couldn’t be bothered looking through hundreds of them, to check if they had my size, nor re-entering my dress size EVERY time I wanted to look at another possibility.

Back to Marks and Spencer here. Yes, they had some nice dresses in my dress size but even though I am slightly above average height for a woman, the dresses were all too long. I don’t wear heels (see the next bit), so I couldn’t make myself taller. I refuse to trip over the hem of a dress that’s too long and I certainly don’t have time to find a dressmaker to take it up for me. They didn’t have any slightly shorter versions, so no dress there either.

What did I do? I went back to my wardrobe to see if I could re use a wedding outfit from a previous wedding a couple of years ago and found a dress that I had bought along with the wedding outfit and never worn - it still had the tags on. So I got my brand new wedding outfit without spending any money and gave up on getting a summer dress. By the way, that outfit came from a small independent retailer who sells clothes for REAL people - just not underwear - I might just go back there and stock up on some outfits for future use!

Update - unfortunately, that retailer is no longer available - the financial crisis in this country was just too much to take!

Training shoes for healthy feet

Trainers keep the feet healthy, and you can get a wide range of sizes and support
Trainers keep the feet healthy, and you can get a wide range of sizes and support | Source


I have always hated shopping for shoes. My feet are wide and the general shoe stores do not cater for women with wide feet - they are expected to wear standard sizing and put up with it! And the specialist shoe stores are very expensive: it’s hard to justify that type of expenditure when you are trying to feed growing children.I remember many years ago shopping for shoes for a job interview and finding a lovely pair. Got through the interview fine but then had to walk quite a distance to the bus stop. I was nearly crippled by the time I got there. As I got closer to retirement, I had a little more spare money and decided to buy shoes from a specialist shoe store but still couldn’t find shoes that fitted properly, as well as feeling comfortable and didn’t look like boats on my feet. Closer and closer to retirement, I started wearing short boots - they were wider but didn’t have enough “spring” in the sole to make walking or even the odd bit of running comfortable. While I did my best to get good fitting shoes, I had a corn on the little toe on each foot and calluses on the soles of my feet.

I now wear trainers every day.

Update - I now get a daily "offer" from an online sportswear catalogue - Sportsdirect. They have a daily offer with a very good deal. Normally, there is nothing that I particularly need but today ONLY, they have men's shoes at 90% OFF - and they are in my size. Even if I hate them, the cost is not too much - and they look good, so going to try those!

Comfortable shoes?

Can you find comfortable footwear?

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Comfortable shoes

My favourite black sandals
My favourite black sandals | Source

Comfortable footwear

Since retirement, I have moved into wearing training shoes, all day, every day. I have no corns or calluses on my feet and I can still do the odd bit of jogging and should be doing more, though I often take a 3 mile hike around the local lighthouse and my feet feel fine. While I buy gents’ size 8 (because the women’s trainers are still too narrow), there doesn’t really seem to be any style difference between men’s and women’s trainers, unlike fashion shoes. So what did I do for the wedding? Many years ago, I bought a pair of very cheap black sandals. I have had them repaired at the cobbler’s shop, as necessary and keep them specially for those occasions!

Update: Today i did the three mile hike round the lighthouse AND walked out to my son's house and back again - another 3 miles AND did housework when I was there. Feet feel great in trainers. :)

UPDATE March 2017:

I have found a shop that sells shoes in a variety of widths and styles. I have bought two pairs and am very satisfied with them. One pair has small heels, the other pair is flat. BOTH are comfortable - hooray. But I still wear trainers almost every day and find these suit me best anyway. But for those who cannot or will not wear trainers or flat shoes, there ARE specialist shoe shops out there that can suit "difficult" feet.

Wake Up Big Shops

The big shops are not doing too well financially, many of them are losing money or have reduced profits. Do they really want to sell clothes? Do they want to make money? They need to sell clothes and underwear that people want to buy and that fit well, no matter their figure. Until they do, I will frequent the small independent clothes sellers that sell real clothes, wear trainers all day long and bring out my ancient sandals next time there’s a wedding. Oh, and I will continue to buy my sports bras online so I can get my dark coloured, traditional styles support for this ancient but fit and healthy figure. And I’ll keep my money I would have spent on clothes and put it towards a new computer!

What do you think about clothes for you?

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    • DreamerMeg profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Northern Ireland

      I mostly live in t shirts and jogging bottoms (winter) or shorts / crop trousers (summer) these days, so it's just for weddings, mainly. I just cannot be bothered with the hassle, rather spend my time walking or on the computer.

    • Billrrrr profile image

      Bill Russo 

      4 years ago from Cape Cod

      As a guy, it's obviously much easier for me. Retired on Cape Cod, I just mostly wear shorts and a tee shirt. Living in the States, I am always hungry for the UK perspective. My father's side comes from Italy, but I can't get back even two generations, on my Mother's side, I can follow here family all the way back to England and Ireland in the 1600s. So at least on the maternal side, I am part Irish and love to learn about the country and the people. Great work on this. I look forward to more.

    • DreamerMeg profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Northern Ireland

      I know, ridiculous, isn't it?

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      4 years ago from England

      I had to come back and make another comment, because this week I was going nuts just trying to find a pair of trousers that fit! would you believe it? Prmart Marks and Spencers, Tesco's and so on, not one of them, or the 'real' clothes shops had my size! either too big or too small, too short or just to long that I fell over them! I ended up with a pair of boring leggings! typical! nell

    • DreamerMeg profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Hi WritingLover - glad to see you back. Yes, the big stories don't seem to cater for very many, do they?

    • writinglover profile image


      4 years ago from Lost...In Video Games

      Hey, DreamerMeg! Boy, I can relate to this. I'm not the easiest person to shop for since I am only four-foot-nine. I have to get my shoes from the children's--yes, children's--department since I only wear a five. Bras are a bit easier since girls, like me are a little bit chunkier than taller girls. I don't mind white, but I do like colors more and underwires are very uncomfortable (thus forcing me to get cotton bras in white). So yeah shopping can be a hassle--especially at the bigger stores.

    • DreamerMeg profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Yes, I enjoyed reading Valleysgirl's comments too! I now wear trainers all the time and buy the same make over the internet two or three times a year - it saves an AWFUL lot of hassle! Thanks for reading and commenting

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Meg, I totally agree. The older people who saved their clothes from the last decade are wise. Shoes are my big problem. I have risked buying online and manged to do okay. You know, Valleysgirl might have some solutions. I enjoyed the read.

    • DreamerMeg profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Northern Ireland

      And they are STILL doing it! Thanks for visiting and commenting.

    • Anna Haven profile image

      Anna Haven 

      4 years ago from Scotland

      This is so true and as you said annoying. Multi packs with different colours, some of which you just don't want is just not going to grow their profits or customer satisfaction.

    • DreamerMeg profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Yes, you like the white ones and I prefer black. We should each be able to buy what we need and not have to purchase other, unwanted colours. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Oh I agree with you and especially the sports bras and actually I like the white so I can wear them under blouses if I want and they don't show up and when I get out taking pictures, etc and get too warm I can take my blouse off, but I do have one. I do hate the way some fit too, and the ones that say one size fits all...please! I about die in some of them.

    • DreamerMeg profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Northern Ireland

      @suzettenaples and @freecampingaussie thanks for visiting. I knew it wasn't just me! LOL

    • freecampingaussie profile image


      5 years ago from Southern Spain

      I enjoyed this as I hate shopping especially for shoes. Totally agree with you about buying bras etc when choosing as I can never buy what I really want there .

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 

      5 years ago from Taos, NM

      Great article! I agree, it is difficult to fine clothing to fit certain figures. The department stores seem to buy for certain size women and for certain figures. If you don't fit into their pattern of what a woman should look out it is difficult to fine something that fits right. I love your writing style and your humor. Great job!

    • DreamerMeg profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Yes, I wonder that too, Rajan. Thanks for commenting.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      I just wonder who these big brand shops cater to! They ought to know they are there to sell to anyone coming in.

      Very interesting!

    • DreamerMeg profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Valleysgirl - why didn't I find you as a lifestyle support guru years ago? Life would have been so much simpler!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Now, in my role as Lifestyle Support Guru, I have a little time to respond to these thoughts about why big shops have lost your custom... First of all, there is an easy answer to the problem of the sports bra - give up sport and then you won't have to buy sports bras! Solved! Next, the wedding outfits - make sure that you go to weddings where the guests are different from the last one and then no-one will know that you're wearing the same outfit (just warn any family in advance that you will be wearing the same outfit for the foreseeable future and if they really care, they won't comment!)! Solved! As for shoes - you seem to have that problem sorted nicely - just make sure that, as you slip further into your dotage, you don't wear the trainers to any future weddings and the sandals for walking round the lighthouse. More importantly, as age creeps ever further up on you, don't wear one of each for either of those activities! One last thought - when trying on outfits which look awful, it is ALWAYS the mirror which is flawed. I have come across so many flawed mirrors over the years and they seem to be making more and more of them as I get older! Hope this helps.

    • DreamerMeg profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Yes, there is no agreed sizing either - you can be one size in one shop, a size bigger in another and smaller in a third! Thanks for visiting.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      5 years ago from England

      Oh me too! lol! I hate those shops, I have to buy a different range of sizes from different shops, its unbelievable!

    • DreamerMeg profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Northern Ireland

      I'm glad it's not just me! Thanks for visiting.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 

      5 years ago from Texas

      Hi Meg, I agree with this article, I can't find anything that appeals to me. Sometimes I just walk in and walk out.


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