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What’s the Deal with Shopping Anyway?

By Ann Richardson March 03, 2024 Lifestyle

I cannot keep my secret quiet any longer. I have suffered in silence for years. Only my closest friends know the situation and they tend to sympathise. It’s not really my fault, but I really HATE shopping. I always have.

The Problem

Let’s try to ‘unpack’ this little problem. Perhaps I had a bad experience in the past. Perhaps if I were to be given the right sort of aversion therapy (or is it the opposite?), I might learn to love shopping.

I doubt it. There is very little I could learn to like.

First and foremost, I am not very acquisitive. I don’t much like ‘things’. A new dress rarely cheers me up. Nor does finding just the right vase or tablecloth.

I might make an exception for a new book I look forward to reading, but there aren’t many such exceptions.

Secondly, I am really uncomfortable in crowds. I try to find times to shop when the crowds will be small, but it is difficult. Many shops are quiet first thing in the morning, but if it requires public transport to get there, you are stuck in any case.

As you can imagine, I would never shop in a sale – people struggling to get into the front in order to acquire that one thing specially on sale is my idea of sheer hell.

Thirdly, I can’t bear the whole process of trudging from shop to shop to find the right thing. I find it incredibly dispiriting. Leaving aside food shopping, I have never found one store – yes, even a large department store – which sold exactly what I wanted in every department.

Too Much Choice

And finally, I hate being given too much choice. I can stand for what feels like hours in front of a shelf full of breakfast cereals, feeling like a deer caught in the headlights.

Yes, I will often fall down this line of thought… Maybe I should try that one with the little bits of fruit, but no, would I be better off with something with bran? Does it have too much hidden sugar? Or salt? Is this one over-priced because it has a child’s gift inside?

Point a gun and tell me what to choose and I would be much happier.

I am certainly no better with house furnishings. However much I try to prepare for such decisions, I am constantly worrying that something is the wrong size or the wrong colour for everything else in that room. I have no ability to visualise it.

It makes me feel incompetent. Not recommended.

And it is much worse with clothes. I am an awkward size (too short, hips too big), but then everyone I know says they think they are an awkward size. No problem if you enjoy the process anyway, but in my case it is a nightmare.

I dislike the whole rigamarole of trying things on – not because of the slim young things in the dressing room – but simply because I have never been very good at getting dressed and undressed.

And then you are back to the problem of choice. Well, it doesn’t fit perfectly, but then nothing ever does, so do I choose the slightly tight waist or the awkward fit over the shoulders?

Do I really need this garment anyway?

Mail Order

So, you might argue – if you hate shopping, why not go the mail order route? It is so easy in this day and age.

Yes, I do a lot of shopping via mail order. I have learned, over time, which companies sell trousers that actually fit and which catalogues’ pictures are reasonably accurate. Some companies have very helpful staff who will discuss details like the ‘feel’ of a garment. Much welcomed by me.

It is a bit of a nuisance when you need to send things back, but they are making the packaging much more suitable for this purpose. And at least the line in the post office is not much longer than the line in the store you would have experienced if you had bought the item in a store in the first place.

The Test I Can’t Pass

Shopping feels like a kind of test that I am always failing. Either I come back with nothing – and everyone says “What? You couldn’t find anything you liked?” Or I come home with something and they say “What? You chose that?”

I hate shopping. I’m afraid the feeling will stay with me until the end.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Do you share a dislike of shopping? What shopping do you dislike most? Have you had any particularly bad experiences? Or, is there a different activity that you feel similarly frustrated with? Please share with the community and let’s have a chat!

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Julie

I agree! Shopping for anything is tedious. I do go online for pretty much everything except groceries. I want to be the one picking out my produce because I’m picky. And I’m a label reader. I look for the least amount of ingredients as possible. Clothes shopping is the absolute worst! Nothing is made well anymore, you can’t go by size and don’t get me started on the horrific patterns and styles, ugh. It’s enough to make me want to permanently live in simple jeans and a T-shirt.

Claude

Regarding the jeans, that is assuming you have any interest in high waisted, frayed hems, ready made holes and shredded areas.

Julie

Totally agree with you. The older I get, I embrace minimalism. I believe in using what I have. The more stuff you have the harder it is to keep up with stuff. I rather get a pedicure or facial or something that I don’t have to bring into the house and figure out where to put it. Then after a few months, I don’t even use it anymore. So many times, I will hold it in the store and then talk myself out of buying because I can not stand clutter!

Christie

OMG! A kindred spirit!! I despise having to try on clothes…crowds…never go shopping during sales because of the chaos, etc.! I actually specifically try to shop during popular televised football games or any major sport event because the stores are practically empty of shoppers! Thank you for this article! It was very entertaining and one I can totally relate to!

Brenda Lownsberry

I, too, hate shopping. However, at age 67, I am finding that my physique has changed a bit in the past couple of years, and the clothing style I’ve worn for most of my life is not always my best look these days. :-( People still comment on how slim and petite I am, but regardless of my appearance, I am aware of physical changes that have occurred, and I’m finding myself “forced” into learning a new way to dress. Not because I think others need to see a “better me,” but because I want to be happy with my appearance. Ugh! I hate lugging a bunch of clothing into a fitting room, trying it all on, and finding (hopefully) a piece that works for me. It’s been a process, but I think I’ve about got it nailed down, after a year of all that you’ve described. Ordering a bunch of stuff online, only to find that none of it works, and all has to be returned (fill out the forms, wrap the package, take it to UPS/FedEx/USPS). Anyway, I have been enjoying your blog; thanks for speaking out on so many issues relating to the “older woman.” I am 68, so even when I don’t learn something new from you, I am encouraged to know “I’m not the only one.”

Vicky

I totally agree with you. Since the pandemic it’s been even worse. The looking around, trying on, what fits, color, style. UGH. I do it when needed. Shopping online is another challenge, but when I find website’s that work, I tend to stay with them, and I am fairly successful in finding items.

Deborah

Oh my gosh! Can I identify with everything you wrote! Thank you!

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The Author

Ann Richardson’s most popular book, The Granny Who Stands on Her Head, offers a series of reflections on growing older. Subscribe to her free Substack newsletter, where she writes fortnightly on any subject that captures her imagination. Ann lives in London, England with her husband of sixty years. Please visit her website for information on all her books: http://annrichardson.co.uk.

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