Staying Mindful at Sale Time

I love sales, I'm not ashamed to admit. And I rarely come home emptyhanded when I go to one (although I'm always prepared to). But sales have certain dangers, and this was beautifully illustrated in an article (aptly titled 'War'!) published recently in The Age newspaper by fashion writer Janice Breen Burns.

Breen alerted readers to a major trap that can beset the bargain hunter. On a shopping trip with her daughter, she bought her a pair of jeans that she assumed were $50 off the original price. After she'd checked her credit slip and gone back to the store to correct the 'mistake' she thought the sales assistant had made, she was told that the pile from which her daughter had selected the jeans weren't on sale -- although they were next to a series of piles of jeans that were all $50 off. Sneaky to say the least.

A similar thing happened when she made a bulk purchase of her favourite undies, lured by a red 'Sale' sign that seemed to indicate they were less than half-price. You guessed it -- not a cent off.

There are a couple of lessons here. Sometimes when we're at a busy mall or a shopping strip full of stores having sales, we go into a kind of fog of consumer delight. That's exactly what the stores want us to do -- the store window displays, layouts, smell, fittings and signage are all designed to encourage us to spend. The red sale signs are particularly powerful, and there's something very primeval about bargain hunting.

But there are two things that can help you avoid disaster. The first is not letting the fog swallow you up -- staying aware of what's going on for you, even if it's just acknowledging that you're salivating at the thought of that shiny black sleeveless top that has a whole $20 slashed of it, and choosing to slow down a bit in your decision making. This is mindfulness.

The second is listening to that 'still small voice' -- your intuition. Mindfulness can help you go slowly enough to do that. Have you ever been about to race into a changing room or to a counter with your booty, yet you felt something wasn't quite right? You felt uncomfortable and you couldn't identify why. It may have been that the clothes item (or whatever else you were purchasing) just wasn't right for you. It may have been that the store's price signs were misleading and you were about to be duped. Or it may have been even more straightforward than that -- you simply couldn't afford to buy the item. Listen to that inner voice -- it may be irritating but believe me, it's your friend!


The Shopping Sherpa said...

Have you read Paco Underhill's books on this subject?

The Inspired Shopper said...

Yes -- I read 'Why We Buy' and skimmed through 'The Call of the Mall'(not as good as 'Why We Buy'). Found him really helpful in identifying the ways retailers lure shoppers into stores and 'encourage' us to buy -- although his advice is aimed at retailers, he's also keen to make shopping a better experience for people. I might write more about this in a future post!