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Emotional online shopping

For a long time I have been interested in the psychology behind shopping.  In my life I have seen groups of people aggressively hammering on a shop front door to be let into a boxing day sale.   I have seen news footage of people trampled to death in the desire to obtain a gift voucher.  I have seen great reams of offensive comments on companies' Facebook pages because people were unable to access their website during a sale. Also on a company's Facebook page I have seen people claim they cannot sleep and are afraid to leave the house due to excitement about a product launch (and the anxiety of missing it being released).

With the exception of the people who were trampled to death whilst queuing in the hope of receiving a credit voucher (in Saudi Arabia, at an Ikea event) all of this anger, anxiety and sleeplessness was caused by people wanting to buy something and being obstructed by the company.  If you're wondering if I'm talking about a purchase of necessity - food or water, for example - you'd be wrong.  When I worked at H&M I witnessed hordes of people in Southampton hammering on the front doors to be let into our post Christmas (clothes) sale.  The abuse directed at a company, was during a Model's Own sale (cosmetics) and the people who could not sleep and were afraid to leave the house for fear of missing the opportunity to buy a new product were all proclaiming so on the Boudoir Prive Facebook.


Seeing these things, I can't help but feel that we haven't all gone a little bit mad.  Don't get me wrong, I love shopping.  In the run up to payday I have been known to make lists of all the things I want to buy the following month.  We all blog our wishlists - and then blog what we've bought when we allow ourselves a splurge.  I feel comfortable with this.  I admit I feel disappointment when I want to buy something and it sells out, or I get sniped on eBay on something I really wanted, but this feeling quickly passes.  It does not turn into rage or upset.  It worries me that we have become a nation so dependent on the thrill and excitement of shopping that when the opportunity is withdrawn from us we turn to anger and aggression.  It makes me feel sad that people are counting down the days, lying awake at night or refusing to leave the house because of the anticipation of being able to order a beauty sample box, or a half price nail varnish.  I am not being 'holier than thou' here - I'm guessing (hoping?) it's a small minority of people who are experiencing these type of emotions at being met with a barrier to being able to buy.  I am guessing most people feel like me - if I can't buy it, and it's not a basic necessity like food or water (no matter how I try, stationery and shoes do not fit into this category) then... well, I am okay with it.  The world will not drop off its axis, life as we know it will not grind to a halt.  I can live without a Betty Blue Model's Own nail varnish or an H&M vest with 50% off (and let's face it, their sale items are usually pretty horrid anyway).


In a way, you have to give these company's PR/Marketing teams a pat on the back (well, maybe not for causing such mass hysteria that people actually died.)  But I can't help thinking this isn't a positive step.  I can't help thinking we should be telling people... you know what, if you can't buy that nail varnish or that vest, you didn't win the Ikea voucher or the discount code, or you're not first in line to order the beauty sample box... it's okay! Turn the computer off, step outside, and go for a walk.  Get some good old fashioned fresh air.  There's a whole world out there (and psssst... it's free!)

11 comments

  1. This is so true, I like to have a nosy when there's a sale but when it's around the time of i.e. Boxing day sales, it is just crazy. I'd rather do it online in the comfort of my own home without everyone squabbling!

    Louisejoyb xo | Bits&Bobs

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  2. I love a bargain but I'd never get out of bed to join a queue on boxing day! Like you said the sales can often be a lot of stuff you didn't want first time round. I love shopping but I do think some people take it too far! x

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  3. What an interesting post, Rosie! Sadly, we've become an increasingly materialistic society. There is so much choice now that we feel we must have everything and immediately!
    The hype surrounding certain goods is frenzied and the PR and advertising companies are very adept at making us believe our lives will be much better if we own their product. Words like "limited" or "exlusive" are not used accidently, either.
    Most goods are overpriced, proven by the fact that companies can offer items for half price and still make a profit!
    I don't want to sound pious but the best things in life aren't things :) xx

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  4. This post is so true, I remember looking at the Models Own FB page during the sale and being astonished at what some people were saying! I dont know why people get so caught up on the materialistic things like clothes or nail polish. Its a lovely treat but as you say the world will not drop off its axis if we dont get it! Its rather sad when you compare our lives to those in third world countries. I wonder if some of these people need bringing back down to earth! xoxo

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  5. I do love a bargain and it's a bit of a tradition to get to the Lush store not long after it opens on Boxing Day to snap up one of their biggest box sets for free before they run out. I was also refreshing like mad on the Models Own sale but if I wasn't able to buy either of these things then life would go on as usual. I wouldn't leave rude comments and act like some of the nutters I've seen on companies FB pages. Can't believe people have actually died because of this. Madness!

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  6. I hate the January sales for this very reason... I like the summer sales because they're a bit more chilled. I refuse to go in Topshop in the sale (just look online) because it drives me nuts, and makes me stressed!

    Great post :)

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  7. A does of reality, thanks Rosie. I don't actually buy very much I don't really need (I'm trying desperately to make wine fit into this category!) and it amazes me how hyped up people get about new releases, sales or products. The world will not end, you will not spontaneously combust if you don't buy something. I often wonder where bloggers find their money when they're posts are always featuring a new buy, or a different set of clothes several times per week.

    I also don't really get the appeal of shopping. I get sick of being gawped at in Topshop by shop assistant who clearly feel I have no right to be there, I hate being elbowed out of the way when perusing the rails and I hate the pre-pubescent girls who are always going to look better in the changing rooms. Give me online shopping any day!

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  8. I agree with you, i love shopping but even i think that is way over the top.

    p.s. super lovely blog :)

    DayByDiva.Com
    DayByDiva.Com

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  9. Yes yes yes, I too am fascinated by this behavior and find it so alien! This is a great post and am very happy to have read it in a time of feeling swamped by 'i want' blog posts (i don't usually mind them, but sometimes it gets too much!)
    I could probably write an essay on this so will cut it short, haha!
    - Charlotte xx

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  10. I couldn't agree more, I mean... I work in retail so I have seen it all. I try to avoid sale shopping at all costs because it is just a load of women pushing and shoving to get something for as cheap as possible. I would rather do it online thanks :) <3

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  11. I worked and lived in Jeddah before for almost 2 years. When they go on sale, they really go on sale. I remember everytime I go home, I always carry an extra luggage with me

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Thank you in advance for your lovely comments, they mean the world to me! If you have a question or want to get in touch, tweet me at @rosieoutlook.