The 5 kinds of Extreme Shopper. Could you be one of them? Could I?

[Welcome to a Mamamia Best-Of holiday post where I get to take a little break while keeping you entertained with some of the most popular posts from days gone by]

Perhaps in the past, yes, but these days
I’m clean. Very occasionally, I relapse but not so much now that I’m
taking my medication regularly and attending the meetings.

So, US fashion journal Women’s Wear Daily surveyed salespeople in
department stores and up-market boutiques who identified the different
types of high-maintenance customers. Extreme Shoppers often mean
extreme commissions but they also mean extremely hard work for the poor
buggers who have to serve them.


“Well-practiced at pouring her heart out to a salesperson on a regular basis.”
The great thing about someone who works in a shop? They can’t run away
when you launch into the latest tedious instalment of your
on-again-off-again relationship with the Bastard Who Won’t Commit. Two
words: captive audience. Four more: cruel and unusual punishment.
At the higher end, this type of extreme shopper will want to discuss
her mega-bucks divorce settlement and will take her lawyer’s calls in
the middle of the store before hanging up and giving the sales
assistant – and everyone else in earshot – a full debrief.

“Prone to tantrums and just plain bizarre behaviour.”
Like the woman who asks a department store staffer snap naked photos of her in the dressing room. Or the shopper who displays ‘register rage’, loudly abusing the sales assistant when her credit card is rejected or she’s refused a discount. May also indignantly announce “Don’t you know who I am?” even when clearly, no one cares.

“Shops non-stop and isn’t exactly sure why.”
For this extreme shopper, the cash register is her poker machine. She shops when she’s happy, sad, angry or bored. She buys bikinis in winter, cashmere when it’s 34 degrees (hey, she’s already bought every swimsuit in the store) and gumboots during a drought. Just because.

“Tries on clothes as a form of exercise, is a big fan of putting merchandise on hold for days before actually buying and often in a chronic returner.”
Also known as a Gemini or a Libra.


“Inclined to parade around the store in her underwear, flirt with salespeople or show off her latest dance move.”
These are the only shoppers alive who actually appreciate that sadistic retail device: the mirror outside the change-room. Forced to venture onto the shop floor to primp and pose in public? That’s a win. Even better when someone else’s boyfriend is sitting there. An audience! Woo! This type of extreme shopper particularly loves a crowded sample sale because with no change-rooms at all, they’re wholly entitled to strip down in the middle of the mosh pit.

Any of those sound familiar? I’m not any of those types exactly although the words “addict” and “chronic returner” resonate just a wee bit.
However, I do have my own list of shopping types I’d like to flag. They’re just as dysfunctional as Extreme Shoppers but not at the expense of sales assistants. These types of shoppers are a liability only to themselves.
And this, my friends, this is an area in which I shine.

Often, I’ll forget the person selling me something is being paid to sell me that something. This is an odd thing to forget since I’m in their shop and they’re serving me. But cleverly, I manage it. Next, I always phrase my questions in a way that helpfully pushes the sales assistant toward the right answer. “This style of jacket is classic and it won’t date, will it?” I ask. “Ah, no,” they reply dutifully. “Oh great!” I exclaim, surprised and delighted by their honest insight. And then I buy the expensive jacket and wear it twice.

Back when I was a sales assistant myself, at Cherry Lane in the eighties, impressionable teenage girls would often walk out having bought the exact outfit one of the staff was wearing. Back then, I laughed at them. Now, I am one of them.

This is when you’ve seen a backstage shot of Gemma Ward in a magazine and she’s wearing baggy denim high-waisted shorts with a fringed gypsy vest and flat, red, patent leather boots and you know, you just KNOW, that this is the outfit that will complete your wardrobe. Heck, your life. Y

ou immediately dash out to hunt down its components even though Gemma Ward is two decades younger than you, is dressed for a different season and probably in top-to-toe Lanvin which (if she’d had to pay for it) would have cost a foxy $14,000. Oh, and she’s about to walk DOWN A CATWALK NOT CATCH A TRAIN TO WORK IN A BANK.

This is when you’re trying to dress in a way that doesn’t suit your age, size, profession, gender, personality or all of the above. The first clue this may be you is if you’re confused by what the sales assistants are wearing. “What’s that on his head and is she really wearing a jumper upside down as a pair of pants?”

Another clue is when you find yourself muttering grumpily “is this a shop or a bloody nightclub?” before asking the girl at the register with the cheek piercing to turn down the music because it’s giving you a migraine. This happened to me three times in a single trip to Westfield this week. When did shops become nightclubs I ask you? When? And where is my Nurofen dammit?

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