I don’t know if it’s just me, but the shopping experience is becoming more and more unpleasant. I miss being able to walk up to the counter is a store, exchange pleasantries with the staff, pay for my items, and walk out with nothing more than my items and a tiny 2-inch receipt.
Shopping feels like a hassle now. When I walk into a store I get bombarded with staff asking if they can help me, telling me about their sales and specials, and offering me the store credit card. This is before I even pick up an item. Check out is more of the same with requests for personal information, and offers for credit cards and “rewards” programs. I leave the shop with bags prominently displaying the store’s logo, filled with a bunch of garbage – coupons, flyers, and a foot-long receipt containing requests to complete surveys… and more ads. And a headache.
What can a hassled shopper do?
- Consolidate your purchases: Shopping at fewer shops, less often greatly reduces the time and energy spent shopping. I know people who shop multiple grocery stores to pick up all the deals. Be careful about using this strategy. Make sure it’s actually worth it. Driving around town takes time and increases transportation costs. Visiting more shops increases opportunities for impulse purchases. Personally, I usually find that the few dollars I might save aren’t worth the time and energy spent running around.
- Skip the rewards programs: Rewards programs are there to get our personal information for marketing. I find that in most cases the rewards aren’t worth my time or the increase in junk mail that I receive as a result. If it’s a place you shop a lot and the rewards are really worthwhile, then sign up. But think twice before offering up information to any shop that asks.
- Do your research in advance: This is especially true if you’re making a large purchase. Know your options and have an idea of what it will cost.
- Make a list: Less time in the shopping environment means less time getting hassled. Have a list before you go and know what you want. I find this to be the best way to save time in the shops, whether it’s a grocery store or a clothing store.
- Politely decline… over and over and over: Do you need help? No thank you. Do you have a store credit card? No, and I don’t want one. Are you signed up with our rewards program? No, and I don’t care to. What’s your phone number/email? I don’t give that out. The more you do this, the easier it will be.
- Shop online: This eliminates the time and cost to get to the shop, some of the offers and ads, and the lines at check out. For some of us, it also cuts down on the temptation to make unplanned purchases. You can buy nearly anything online and have it delivered, or at least prepared for pick-up. If you want to shop local or avoid delivery fees, you can still use this tip. Grab a friend and make a plan… you can buy and deliver her household items and she can buy and deliver your school supplies, or whatever. You’ll each be saving trips over all.
- Don’t buy it: Of course, the easiest way to simplify your commercial experience is choosing not to have one. Most of us can shop a lot less than we do. Do you really need to make the trip? Do you really need to make it now? Also consider avoiding the shops that hassle you the most.
Using these tips will simplify your buying experience, saving you time and money that can be used on more important things. If you’re interested in buying less and raising your awareness about your buying habits, I suggest that you commit to not shopping for a pre-determined period. A month is a good place to start. I’ve found this to be very helpful in raising my awareness around how my buying habits impact my life. To step it up a notch, also try to avoid marketing during this time. No commercials, magazines, and internet, etc. Successfully completing this challenge will make you think twice before going to the shops and you’ll see advertising in a whole new way.