Is It Time You Started Shopping Alone?

If you want to save your friendship, then maybe...


by Eleanor Doughty |
Published on

I have a confession to make and it won’t make me popular. No one will ask me to Bicester with them again, for sure. Because I might be breaking some kind of girl code but I don’t like shopping with friends. It’s inefficient, boring – and you always end up spending more than you wanted to in the first place.

Before you think of me as a bitch, hear me out. Because, psychologically there are apparently different types of shoppers – destination shoppers with varying degrees of neurosis, those who make a beeline for one item and whisk it off to the changing rooms, and the deadly browsers. We’re all one of them at some point, but I’ve noticed amongst my friends that as time and finances seem a little tighter, destination shopping is more prevalent. No longer do we have a Saturday afternoon to waste getting stuck in Topshop – it’s in and out on a Tuesday evening. And because efficient destination shopping isn’t as fun as a general browse, it’s best done alone.

As Dr Dimitrios Tsivrikos, consumer psychologist at UCL, puts it: ‘Shopping on your own reduces the amount of time spent in a retail space, which means you are more likely to purchase less. Shopping on your own is at times also a wiser strategy, as you are not exposed to high levels of emotional and social pressure that your peers may put on you.’ He’s talking about that moment you end up leaving Topshop with a printed jumpsuit that looked great on your mate but you’ll never wear again. I think we’ve all been there.

In fact, there are so many problems with going shopping with friends that it’s a wonder anyone does. Having to constantly look out for someone else is hard work. Step into a shop with more than one corner and you’re immediately separated; last weekend I lost a friend in Boots twice in as many minutes. The anti-glamour continues in the changing rooms. If your friend isn’t trying on something too then you feel rushed, like you’re being annoying. An unfortunate direct consequence of this rushing is getting stuck in the dress you’ve been ogling for a week, and then panicking, thus only ending up keeping them waiting longer. Even if they’ve said it’s okay three times after you’ve finally got that zip working and you’re out of there, you’re on the back foot for the rest of the day because now you feel you owe them something. But what that something is, is a little unknown.

‘Shopping at its best is an experience between individuals that creates some level of joy,’ says retail consultant Jayne Cartwright. But this joy is only shared if you’re on the same page as your partner in the crime.’ In other words if you are going to do it make sure you’re with a friend – not a frenemy – and someone who earns a similar amount. Or choses to spend a similar amount of their disposable income on clothes, at least. ‘Sometimes you need the final push into ‘yes, I’ll take it’, or a firm ‘no, this is not cool-ugly, it’s just ugly,’ says Jayne.

But that all sounds too complicated for me. My rules? Unless your friend is a physical requirement for your shopping trip because she’s a) the bride and you’re picking out non-matching shoes for the wedding or b) paying, then go it alone. Or go out together and meet for lunch in the middle of the day – rather than getting lost in Westfield looking for each other, and then ending up hating her and the stuff you go home with. Save your friendships and shop alone!

Follow Eleanor on Twitter @brushingboots

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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