Partners in Crime: How Who You Shop With Affects Your Shopping Behaviour

Posted by Jill Chivers in Attitudes and Habits, Shopping Strategies

Who do you shop with?

How does being with them, or being alone if you mainly shop solo, affect your shopping behaviour?

We know environment and who we surround ourselves with impacts us, changes us.  But many of us have probably not given much thought to how who we shop with affects our own shopping behaviour.

It’s worthwhile stopping for a moment and give this some thought.  You could be amazed at what you discover when you consider the impact that those you choose to shop with is having on your shopping behaviour.

My recent experience shopping with a friend

I was reminded of how who we shop with affects us only recently.   I was out to lunch with a friend and she wanted to stop in to a few little boutique stores “just for a look”.  Enjoying a ‘look’ as much as I always have, albeit with a much shorter tolerance and attention span, I was happy to browse for a bit.

For context, let me share with you that this friend loves to shop although she doesn’t currently have the means to do much of it, which she struggles with.  She’s also going through some major life transition issues right now which is a trigger for her to shop even more. 

There’s a pattern to this

Her pattern is very familiar:  She feels bad about something in her life, she shops in attempt to feel better or mask that feeling, and she ends up feeling worse.  She’s aware of this pattern but seems unable or unwilling to interrupt it, and so it continues for her. It’s very painful to watch, as her friend.

So back to our browsing.  In each store, in response to any passing murmurings of appreciation from me, my friend would exhort me to purchase each and every commented-upon item.  She would say “Grab it!” or “It’s gorgeous, you only live once – you should get it!”.  In one little boutique, as I briefly commented on how lovely a particular shirt was, she said “What is your heart telling you to do?” as if my heart were calling out for me to purchase this item.  

Not especially helpful

Now what is extra fascinating to note is that my friend knows my situation,  my history with over-shopping, and my current way of approaching shopping (specifically, using the Power Pause and never purchasing anything immediately). 

As it turned out, I wasn’t remotely tempted by anything, but it was so intriguing to note my friend’s behaviour and what might be driving it. If I were to be completely honest, her exhortations for me to buy were not especially helpful to me.  But knowing that her behaviour and words weren’t about me, but her, helped me to put what she was saying into some kind of context.

She’d told me that earlier that day, she’d purchased two pair of sunglasses (she has a large wardrobe of sunglasses already) and she’d also shared how her finances were dire.  So I knew she was feeling bad about her own recently shopping and purchases, and I guessed that she wanted me to jump into the guilt pit with her.  

Tuned into myself

If I hadn’t been so switched onto to my own needs (and so entrenched with my new behaviours toward consumption, learned and embedded over the last 3 years), it’s quite possible I would have yielded to her exhortations to purchase something (anything!). 

And by not buying anything, it seemed that this escalated her existing feeling state of agitation and guilt.  As sad as this made me feel, it didn’t influence my decision not to buy anything.

In the My Year Without Clothes Shopping Program, we explore how your shopping partners, or shopping solo, impact on your shopping behaviours as we know it’s going to be affecting you somehow. 

What is important to explore is how your shopping partner/s affect your shopping behaviours.  It’s a fascinating area to shine the gentle light of your awareness on. 

Your mission

For the next few weeks, here’s my suggestion:  Pay closer attention to who you shop with, how they behave and what impact their presence and behaviour has on you. 

Once you have some ‘good intel’ on how those you are shopping with are influencing your shopping behaviour and choices, it’s time to make some healthy decisions about what needs to change in your shopping behaviour and experiences.  If this means you shop less with some friends, or stop shopping with them altogether, then have the courage to follow through on that decision.

There’s always the option of doing something else together with friends for whom it is not in your best interests to shop with.  Meet in a coffee shop for lunch in an area where there are no stores to browse or buy in. Join a class together, or start an activity like walking together or being part of a book club.  There are many other things you can do together besides shop – you are limited only by your imagination!  (and if you need some ideas to inspire your life apart from shopping, check out the Shop Less And Live More daily postcards!).

Remember that changing your shopping partners doesn’t mean you love the people in your life any less.  In fact, stopping shopping with them may be one of the most loving things you can do for them, and for yourself.


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