How To Shop When You Hate Shopping

how to shop when you hate shopping

I had a day off yesterday, so took the opportunity to go to the opening of the new ‘Grand Central’ centre, complete with the new John Lewis store in Birmingham. I’ve watched it take shape over the last few years, and thought it might be a chance to get started on my Christmas shopping (yes, I know it’s September, but I’m using this particular ‘C’ word already…) ahead of the mania that sweeps the city every year.

The problem is, I hate shopping. Okay, to be fair I like buying presents for other people, but I hate actually going out to do so. I hate the crowds, in particular the people who seem oblivious to those around them, and over the years I’ve had lots of bad experiences that have involved rude staff, having my feet run over with pushchairs, long queues of people monotonously complaining about having to stand in line, and one particularly angry woman screaming at me to ‘get out of the way’ in her desperation to secure a box of biscuits from the shelf in Selfridges. Nice. They must have been fabulous biscuits.

Of course, the easiest and most effective way of purchasing items is to buy them from the Internet. However, many people I know are still wary of sharing their bank details online, and there are plenty of horror stories of people who have been scammed, had to wait for weeks for items to arrive or have experienced difficulties when trying to return or replace damaged goods. I use the Internet for specific items, but I often prefer to see a product, or in the case of clothes, try them on before I buy.

The new Grand Central in Birmingham

The new Grand Central in Birmingham

Over the years, I’ve developed a way in which I shop, which I thought may be useful over the coming months:

1. Where possible, shop by yourself. I love socialising and getting involved in fun activities with people, but shopping isn’t one of them. I couldn’t tell you the amount of hours I have spent over the years with family members and friends watching them try to decide on what they want to buy, only for them to change their mind at the last minute and leave with nothing. One particularly horrific trip involved a six hour walk around three H&M stores in Birmingham with my mother, where she looked at the same items in each one and then decided that she didn’t want any of them.

2. Know what you want in advance and where the best prices are offered. Yesterday, I made a shopping list of presents that I wanted and had done a little bit of research about the cost of these items and where they were being sold for less, so I already knew which stores I had to go to.

3. Get there as early as possible. When I know I have to go into the city, particularly at a weekend, I’ll arrive for when the stores open. Depending on the popularity of a particular place, there may still be a queue, but it will be tiny compared to the ones that will form at lunchtime and in the afternoon.

4. Buy the larger items last, or take a rucksack to carry them. This avoids having to drag a heavy weight round with your hands and arms for the rest of your trip.

5. Look your best. This is one of my biggest annoyances, but it’s a fact that you will be treated better and served quicker by staff in many instances if you look like you can afford what you are buying. I spend most of my working life in a suit, so therefore my free time is accompanied by pj’s, hooded sweaters and jogging pants. However, when I have been shopping whilst wearing my old clothes, particularly hoodies and trainers, I have been followed by security guards or ignored by staff. The worst culprits for these are the more expensive department stores that have make-up counters – one incident that always makes me smile involved a woman in the Dior section, who was handing out glasses of champagne to people having make overs and purchasing items, while giving me daggers with her eyes for even daring to be in her presence in my scruffy sweats, and ignoring me three times when I tried to get her attention by saying ‘excuse me.’ To be fair, Dior is not something I can often afford or will buy for myself, but my mother loves it and I had saved up for quite a while to buy her a whole new set of things for her birthday. In the end I left, bought the items from another store and haven’t returned since. However, I digress…

6. Try not to allow other people to frustrate you. It’s unfortunate that regardless of the situation or place, there will always be rude, inconsiderate human beings who have no concept of the fact that they are not the only person on the planet. That’s their fault, not yours, and allowing their behaviour to darken your mood will only make the process much more difficult. Tip: insulting them in your head as you walk past helps.

7. When trying on an item of clothing, I try get the size above and below my usual size to take into the changing room with me in stores that I am not as familiar with. It saves time in getting dressed again and having to repeat the process again with a smaller or larger size later on. Granted, some places have assistants that are employed for help with this sort of thing, but I wouldn’t count on them being available to do it.

8. If I see something extra while I’m shopping that I like, but can’t work out whether to buy it or not, I walk away. I like to follow my gut instinct on something, and if it isn’t screaming at me to get it there and then, I don’t waste my time.

9. Get it all done in one go. Is it a friend’s birthday next month? Do you have a wedding to attend? If your finances will allow it, work out what you need to buy in the coming months and get it all on the same trip – it will save time on having to visit again in the future.

10. Get an uplifting playlist to listen to while you’re shopping. There’s nothing better than having a fabulous set of songs to boost your mood, and nothing can bring me down when I’m listening to my favourite tracks. I find Stevie Wonder is perfect for this sort of thing…

What about you guys? Do you have any tips for avoiding the stress of shopping?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks, my Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks and my Instagram page http://www.instagram.com/suzie81speaks

I’m running the Birmingham Half-Marathon in October in aid of Dementia UK and Bolton Breast Unit – if you would like to contribute to the already generous donations I have received please visit my Just Giving page here:

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52 thoughts on “How To Shop When You Hate Shopping

  1. I always shop alone! Very important, that is. Especially, DO NOT TAKE CHILDREN! They will make a stressful experience all the more stressful. I am not a typical woman. I do not like shopping. I go into the city twice a year to shop; once at Christmas, and once before the annual summer holiday. Living in rural Ireland, there is limited choice, so I have become quite good at shopping online. Enjoyed your post… ‘insulting them in your head’ – lol! – definitely works, I find! πŸ˜‚

    • One of my friends on Facebook said that too… I don’t have children so that’s not a problem, but I must admit that screaming children stress me out and I have to take extra care not to be rude to the parents… It’s not their fault usually that the child is having a meltdown!

  2. The internet has spoiled me. Amazon in particular. I never did like to shop and my idea of a great gift is an Amazon gift card. Sigh. Trying on clothes is punishment that should be reserved for days when you already feel bad. I had to wear “office” attire for a long period in my life and even finding an attractive suit was a challenge. I’ll never forget being on the job hunt after a late graduation from college. One place said I looked more like a secretary than a paralegal (I wore a fantastic sweater and skirt that cost a mint) and the other said that my hair was disturbing. My hair???? I had an asymmetrical hair cut and it was gorgeous. I swear ……. never shopping again!

  3. These are all very good, practical suggestions. I’ve basically ceased going to stores, considering it a huge waste of time. When my children were small, I did have to take them shopping for school clothes. What an ordeal – like herding cats! And hubby had to come to keep them corralled. My now grown daughter, the consummate shopper, will occasionally talk me into going with her, but we never get much done!

  4. I can’t stand shopping. I refuse to go to a mall. If I can’t find what I need outside the mall, I go on-line or I don’t shop at all. I don’t understand people that go to a shopping center just to window shop. Makes no sense at all to me. These are very good tips!!!!! Will keep them in mind if I ever decide to venture into a shopping center again.

  5. When I see something I think I like, but do not know whether to buy it, and walk away; the next day I go back because I decided I want it, and it is gone! More times than I can remember this happened. Am I better off without ‘whatever’? Who knows?

  6. I enjoyed all of these points – useful and true, each one of them πŸ™‚ I do love shopping though, and my daughter enjoys it too. Though most of the time I shop alone, I enjoy family shopping days too. I do agree with research and planning ahead, definitely!

    • I’ve done the family shop thing a few times, but to be honest it pretty much involves my sisters and I being dragged to places by my mother… We don’t mind, it’s nice to spend time together, but we’re all shattered by the end of it!

  7. I hope the Selfridges woman found her biscuits infested with worms, hopefully not discovered till she’d eaten half the box. As for shopping in my jammies – well, the crowds would certainly disperse. Maybe I should try it.

  8. This is a great list. Thanks for sharing. I was going to do a similar post, but different. Oh, and I got all excited when you said Birmingham, I was thinking Alabama, not ENGLAND! LOL But now I am doubly excited that is is in fact ENGLAND and NOT Alabama. Lucky you! πŸ™‚ Nice to meet you, I came in via #MidLifeLuv

  9. I’m a fifty something male. I actually enjoy shopping. My wife loaths it. Shopping with my daughter for school shoes made me appreciate the stoics. I think maybe I need to get out more. If I do shop alone I will almost always buy the wrong thing and never should I be allowed to buy my own clothes. I bought a pair of shoes when I was told I needed to work on my understanding of smart casual. The shoe was a classic leather than felt perfect. My wife’s response? ‘But why green?’

  10. Thank goodness for online shopping is all I can say. Can’t stand crowds. Can’t stand these horrendous, judgemental perfume sellers of whom you speak. My nearest big(ish) town is Ipswich. Anyone who knows of ‘that place’ will feel my pain. The Women who work on the ‘posh’ counters in the stores and who shun hoodie clad women all look like bright orange pantomime dames to me. Well, we can all be judgemental! And London, well, when I go there it’s art galleries or nothing except maybe Liberty’s but I’m even bored with that now. I love Amazon. Great guide to shopping you have here for those who still venture out. πŸ™‚

  11. Here’s my top tip. Never shop in Primark when it’s raining outside! Why? Firstly, most of the people inside will smell of wet dog and chip fat. Secondly, brown paper bag + rain = pants on the street!

  12. Yes. So much, yes! The crowds, the people, the lines, the people… O_o Never even thought of #5 (dress nicely). And I have to try out the playlist. That should help. Before kids, I always tried to get it all done in one visit. I still try but…bwahaha! Right.

    • Haha! I was thinking about it afterwards and realised I was writing it from the perspective of someone who doesn’t have children… Not as easy to do all that when you have a toddler, as my friend pointed out to me!

  13. Some great shopping tips Suzie, shopping isn’t my favourite thing to do either, unless I’m in the mood! Yesterday I popped into town and this guy walked right into me, he was a big bloke, no apologies, nothing. Imagine if I’d been some old lady that he had just ploughed into, I’m not sure if he would have stopped and apologised in those circumstances either. So after that I popped into this really quaint coffee shop, (not one of the chains) which had this really nice atmosphere and was very calm and welcoming. I had a cup of tea and felt much better!

  14. I HATE shopping. I always end up getting annoyed because of the other shoppers. I am 6ft 2 and like to walk faster to get from A to B (mainly because I hate shopping) yet everyone walks so slow or they knock me with their bags as they barge past. I have done all of the Christmas shopping on Amazon. Zero hassle and (the best part) I don’t have to deal with other “average” sized ignorant people who don’t look where they are going or who feel the need to take up a whole pavement or isle.

    • I think The Bloke could relate to this – he’s 6ft 3 and generally towers over most people. However, he’s quite a slow walker despite having long legs so he gets irritated with people rushing into him and barging him out of the way…

      • Ah, I understand how he feels. I get annoyed when people walk slowly though. Guaranteed every time I travel to university someone will stop in my path, I’m 6ft 2, there is no excuse for them not to see me, if anyone has a low chance of seeing anyone, its me for being able to see over their heads, lol.

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