Thursday, March 10, 2011

COCKTAIL CHATTER: "Shopping Bulimia" - Disease or De-stress?

Recently the term "shopping bulimics" has been hitting the net with fire power. The terms refers to shoppers who "binge" by ordering a large amount of items from online retailers, before receiving the items and "purging" by returning the majority of the pieces (through free shipping, of course!).

I have to admit that I am definitely guilty of shopping bulimia. Scouring the latest on Net-A-Porter or has become somewhat of a ritual for me as I sit in bed and click through 'spring essentials' before I go to sleep.

While reading this NY Post article I just kept thinking, "this is me!" But I had never put a label on this strange consumerist cycle in which I often find myself. The actual process of having an entire store at your fingertips, clicking "Place Order," and then opening up your box of goodies a few days later is one that I am quite familiar with.

The process cures me of that itch to spend money but, in the end, doesn't have as much of an impact on my wallet because I, like my fellow "shopping bulimics," return the majority of my purchases. The things I do keep I put more thought into rather than count them among impulse purchases I may have made in-store. I can live with them online items for a few days (most online returns don't have to be made for 30 days) -- drape them over a chair or try them on with pieces I already have. I don't have to make the 10 minute impulse decision in the dressing room that might land me a new pair of trousers that are actually too short to wear with my suede, peep-toe heels.

Although this the process of returing adds extra work to retailers who must process these orders, ship them out (usually on their dime), and then process and repackage returns, in the end, they are getting product into customers' homes.

There's definitely something psychological associated to this cycle; although, for me, the jury's still out on whether this is a harmful "addiction" or just a way to cure the shopping tick.

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