Lastly, we have shoppers who go browsing under the influence. Yes, that’s right, there are many shoppers—especially online shoppers—who are drunk or high when they click the buy button. While poking through 50-something Mimi’s closet, I spotted a full-length light blue froth of swirly chiffon topped by a bodice of giant rhinestones. I didn’t even have to ask. I just pointed to it and Mimi blurted, “That’s what happens when you shop drunk—it was like 95% off, but I can’t return it.”
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Alcohol, you see, first affects the cerebral cortex, which frees our inhibitions. In Mimi’s case it probably went something like this: Why NOT have a Cinderella disco dress!? Next, alcohol hits the hippocampus, which exaggerates emotions. Mimi struck me as a relatively happy and optimistic person, so the notion that she’d imagine herself ultra-happy in that fairytale princess dress makes sense.
While we all make mistakes, the saving grace for consumers is the ability to return misguided purchases. So the number one recommendation is never purchase iffy items you can’t return.
After that, be sure you calculate the down side of the purchases you’re considering—if you truly have places to wear them, and if they genuinely fit your lifestyle and existing wardrobe (not to mention your body). Don’t fall prey to the idea that this is the only time you’ll ever find a designer you like on sale or a dress that’s “simply perfect.” In retail today, we’re truly awash with options, and there’s no reason ever to feel pressured to buy now.
Kit Yarrow, Ph.D., is a consumer psychologist who is obsessed with all things related to how, when, and why we shop and buy. She conducts research through her professorship at Golden Gate University and shares her findings in speeches, consulting work, and her books, Decoding the New Consumer Mind and Gen BuY.