Friday 17 January 2020

Goodbye Mothercare... thanks for the advice...

This week we had my oldest child's 26th birthday, and the very first place I went to buy him anything was Mothercare. His paternal Grandparents gave us the money to get his pram, and I chose a beautiful blue and grey patterned system, which was the poshest thing I owned at the time by far. It would look ridiculously dated now, so I'm almost glad I don't have a photo.

I was a superstitious pregnant lady and I never bought any of my children anything until I was past 28 weeks, but when my pregnancy was making me tired, sore, sick or just down in the dumps, I'd go and browse Mothercare to get my happy hormones back on track and become excited about my new arrival.

When we bought our car seats, Mothercare employees showed us how to fit them correctly, and when my boobs inflated to twice their non-pregnant size, I had my first ever fitting at a Mothercare store.

That might have been over 26 years ago, but my earliest memories of Mothercare are a long way before then. I was the eldest of 3 children, and my parents were foster carers for babies when I was growing up. A trip to Mothercare meant we were about to get a new arrival, and my mother would carefully choose everything she would need ready for when she brought them home from the hospital.

We would wander around, touching everything to see how impossibly soft it was. We'd play with the toys to see if they'd be suitably noisy or interesting. We would push prams and study the raincovers for weatherproofing, and the basket underneath to assess how many bags of potatoes could fit.

Just as when I had my own children, I remember getting home and carefully removing everything from the packaging and laying it out. Staring at those tiny clothes and imagining the child who would be inside them. It represented so much more than clothing, and for our foster babies, we knew they needed a little extra care and deserved to look extra nice.

Even when my own children started to get older, Mothercare was an exciting place to visit. The clothes were gorgeous, and good quality, a full sale rail was a thing of dreams. Mothercare was a reliable name we all knew, and it was a part of our children's world as it was our own childhood.

In my adult lifetime there has been a massive change. Almost 20% of all UK purchases are now made online and I know I'm part of that. I was an early adopter and on this website I regularly promote website shops. It's partly my fault.

Website shopping offers convenience for the buyer. We can shop 24 hours a day, at home, out and about, and have our goods delivered wherever is handy. It isn't the same though. You can't try everything on, get fitted for a bra or test your pram to make sure it's the right height for you. You can't get your browser to pop outside with you and check your car seat is fitted correctly...

Online shopping isn't the same for staff. Logging sales on a website or working in a call centre is not anything like chatting to customers, using your experience to offer assistance or advice, or smiling at babies. Selling online is done sitting at a desk, but somehow that's more exhausting than running around the shop floor for 8 hours, and it doesn't allow you to showcase your own skills.

We will always have a need for physical shops, but who is going to survive the changes our high streets are going through? Did the big guys get too big and have too far to fall? Could we even see a resurgence of the independent smaller shopkeeper, who doesn't have to please and finance a panel of shareholders?

Whatever the future holds, and our towns and cities might change completely over the next few years, some shops will remain because you can never actually offer the same experience online. Sadly though, we have seen the end of Mothercare stores in the UK, and if you look at the replies to Mothercare UK's final post on Facebook, you really do begin to understand just how valuable an asset they were...

To everyone who is now looking for work. I hope you find a job as rewarding as the one you just lost, and sorry for my small part in that... Thanks for the advice, and the memories...

My little boys on the first day of school


  1. It seems a sad shame that Mothercare has closed. It's where I went and bought the first thing, some babygrows when I was pregnant with my now teenager. Mothercare will be missed x

  2. I agree, I have no idea where to start now, as although the supermarkets have lovely clothes. They don't have huge staff that have that knowledge. And where where will new mums now seek a peaceful and safe place to feed? Mothercare had the best feeding rooms as they went a toilet!

  3. Such a sad day - we have lost another high street institution that we will have all used at some point and have fond memories of. I remember visiting before Liv was born and afterwards... sad times! :( x


Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I read every one and try my best to reply!