The one and only thing you should be “panic buying” right now

Written by Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

Itching to stockpile ahead of the UK’s second coronavirus lockdown? Step away from the toilet paper and read this.

It’s official: the UK has taken to panic-buying like credit card-clutching ducks to water. Again. Which is very boring and silly, considering shops will remain open for essentials like toilet paper, eggs, and flour throughout the entirety of the nation’s second lockdown.

Of course, the urge to stockpile is incredibly tempting. Indeed, psychologists have said that it’s rooted in the theory of social proof (basically, when we see other people being worried about something, we feel the need to be worried too – and that transforms into our need to take action when we see other people doing so).

Rather than spend your hard-earned cash on yet another coronavirus ‘shame hoard’, though, why not put it towards something else? Something that will not only enrich your world, but also support small businesses and charities in the process, too?

We’re talking, of course, about books. Because reading, as previously reported by Stylist, has a profound effect on mental agility, the memory and our aptitude for imagination and compassion. It can also help to alleviate stress and aid sleep, too, which is obviously a massive plus during this burning dump truck of a year.

But, rather than buy your next stash of books from a chain, Amazon or your local supermarket (all of these will be able to operate during lockdown, remember), we strongly recommend sourcing yours from one of the following options.

A charity shop

Charity shops will remain open until Thursday 5 November, when they will shutter up for the duration of lockdown. If you have time, please do pop in and browse the paperbacks and hardbacks they have on offer: not only is it a great way to support them ahead of a tricky winter, but it’s also bound to be an absolute treasure trove of bargains and difficult-to-find tomes.

If you prefer to shop from the comfort of your own sofa (and who doesn’t, eh?), then you’ll be pleased to note that many charities also have online shops. This means that you can find literary treasures and…

  • fund vital research via the British Heart Foundation
  • help support the UK’s most vulnerable children with Barnardo’s
  • fight poverty and injustice around the world with Oxfam
  • help millions of people in the UK and around the world to prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies, disasters and conflicts with the Red Cross
  • help cats and dogs find loving homes with Battersea

… as well as support countless other brilliant causes. It might also be worth bookmarking those websites, as they’ll definitely come in handy when you start your Christmas shopping, too.

A Black-owned bookshop

As previously reported by Stylist, there’s a small pool of Black-owned bookshops across the UK that are currently closed due to the pandemic, but they’re still taking online orders. Check out our list of these independent bookshops which either specialise in texts that relate to Black culture, or are owned by a person of colour and spread the word to help them increase their sales and feel your support.

An indy bookshop works with over 120 independent bookshops around the UK, allowing them to create a virtual store, and curate personalised book tables to emulate the experience and feel of a bricks and mortar bookshop.

In what has been praised as a “revolutionary” move, retailers are not charged to host their stores and will receive the full profit margin from each sale, with customer service and shipping handled by and its partners.

Speaking to The Guardian, Andy Hunter, founder of, said, “If you don’t get there before Christmas, and give people a way to support their stores and buy their gift books, then it’s gonna be really catastrophic for shops, which is why we’ve scrambled all hands on deck to get it up.”

And it’s worth noting that the company has been created in such a way that it can never be sold to a major US retailer, including Amazon, which has previously bought out emergent competitors.

A book subscription service

If stockpiling all at once isn’t your scene, then try signing up to a literary subscription service like And Other Stories, Rare Birds Book Club, or Books That Matter. It’s a great way to support a small business and keep yourself stocked up with brilliant new reads throughout the bleak midwinter and beyond.

If books aren’t your thing, of course, feel free to support small businesses and independent shops in other ways. You could stock up on fruit and vegetables at your local farm shop, for example, or batch-book Zoom classes with your favourite yoga teacher. Maybe you might even like to start your Christmas shopping early, and get it out of the way before December rolls around?

Whatever you decide to do, remember that stockpiling medicines, food items, and loo roll leaves vulnerable people without vital products. Stockpiling books and little luxuries, on the other hand, is a surefire way to improve your own lockdown experience and give others a much-needed boost before a really rocky period.

We know which we’d rather spend our money on.

Images: Getty

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