I used to think retail therapy was man’s overrated invention to encourage binge shopping among depressed and lonely women. That was until this day when I walked into Nakumatt Mega supermarket feeling edgy after marinating for hours over a problem I had no solution to, only to walk out of the shop three hours later having forgotten my troubles and 5k lighter.
When it comes to relieving stress, retail therapy competes closely with a pedicure or massage or if you are a foodie, a glass of wine followed by icecream with chocolate dips.
Luckily for me I keep a “desire list” on my phone so that even my impulse buying is sort of pre-meditated. I just need enough emotional push to spend money and mostly on a pair of shoes or cute mugs. On this day at Nakumatt, I ended up buying gifts for my son who had an upcoming birthday, things I would have had to buy anyway, and some stuff for my kitchen.
So why does shopping act as a pick-me-up? Some say it is because it puts you back in charge of your life. There you are on an aisle, deciding if you like this pretty flowered blouse or the chunky necklace better or none at all and if you’re going to pick this and leave ghat. You are back in control. You are the boss. And unless you are stupid shopping, you are actually buying things you like or need or are getting to know more about the stuff you need, stuff that could change your life or that makes you happy. For example that icecream machine or the coffee maker you have been bugging the shop attendant about for the last half hour. You are moving forward in one bit of your life – like in acquiring a new sofa or another pair of shoes to match with your yellow dress. You are achieving a goal. Yes, ticking down a shopping list is achieving a goal in my backyard.
But window shopping works too because it empowers you. When you try on a dress you, know what works and what doesn’t even when you are not taking the dress home. When you check out the p rices of casseroles and dinner sets and smart TVs, you are gaining information that makes you a smarter shopper. You are gaining control. You are empowered. You are making steps forward in an area of your life however inconsequential.
Between a party, bingeing on TV series, burying my nose in an icecream tub and window shopping in pretty stores, I lean heavily towards window shopping, whether for books, clothes, appliances, furniture or homes. If I can’t access a physical store, catalogues work fine as well as does Pinterest. I’m I the only one who loves browsing through catalogues of shops I might never walk into or of homes I can’t afford right now anyway?
I hate those mhindi shops where a nosy attendant follows you around like a bloodhound on a trail. Do I look like I am about to fit a pressure cooker in my not so scrawny behind? But then again I saw CCTV footage of a woman who shoplifted a 32 inch TV and put it under her dress.
Retail therapy is escape and distraction at its best but it’s also about visualising the future and equipping yourself with information as a future buyer. And it doesn’t hurt to treat yourself to a pair of shoes, a lipstick, nail polish or some earrings over your lunch break. Just make sure the items were on your wish list to start with.
Had a rough morning? Try walking around a mall or flipping through a catalogue of the things you love.