Partners in Crime: How Who You Shop With Affects Your Shopping Behaviour

Posted by Jill Chivers in Attitudes and Habits, Shopping Strategies


Who you shop with affects your shopping behaviour

Who do you shop with?

How does being with them, or being alone if you mainly shop solo, affect your shopping behaviour?

We know environment and who we surround ourselves with impacts us, changes us.  But many of us have probably not given much thought to how who we shop with affects our own shopping behaviour.

It’s worthwhile stopping for a moment and give this some thought.  You could be amazed at what you discover when you consider the impact that those you choose to shop with is having on your shopping behaviour.

My recent experience shopping with a friend

I was reminded of how who we shop with affects us only recently.   I was out to lunch with a friend and she wanted to stop in to a few little boutique stores “just for a look”.  Enjoying a ‘look’ as much as I always have, albeit with a much shorter tolerance and attention span, I was happy to browse for a bit.

For context, let me share with you that this friend loves to shop although she doesn’t currently have the means to do much of it, which she struggles with.  She’s also going through some major life transition issues right now which is a trigger for her to shop even more. 

There’s a pattern to this

Her pattern is very familiar:  She feels bad about something in her life, she shops in attempt to feel better or mask that feeling, and she ends up feeling worse.  She’s aware of this pattern but seems unable or unwilling to interrupt it, and so it continues for her. It’s very painful to watch, as her friend.

So back to our browsing.  In each store, in response to any passing murmurings of appreciation from me, my friend would exhort me to purchase each and every commented-upon item.  She would say “Grab it!” or “It’s gorgeous, you only live once – you should get it!”.  In one little boutique, as I briefly commented on how lovely a particular shirt was, she said “What is your heart telling you to do?” as if my heart were calling out for me to purchase this item.  

Not especially helpful

Now what is extra fascinating to note is that my friend knows my situation,  my history with over-shopping, and my current way of approaching shopping (specifically, using the Power Pause and never purchasing anything immediately). 

As it turned out, I wasn’t remotely tempted by anything, but it was so intriguing to note my friend’s behaviour and what might be driving it. If I were to be completely honest, her exhortations for me to buy were not especially helpful to me.  But knowing that her behaviour and words weren’t about me, but her, helped me to put what she was saying into some kind of context.

She’d told me that earlier that day, she’d purchased two pair of sunglasses (she has a large wardrobe of sunglasses already) and she’d also shared how her finances were dire.  So I knew she was feeling bad about her own recently shopping and purchases, and I guessed that she wanted me to jump into the guilt pit with her.  

Tuned into myself

If I hadn’t been so switched onto to my own needs (and so entrenched with my new behaviours toward consumption, learned and embedded over the last 3 years), it’s quite possible I would have yielded to her exhortations to purchase something (anything!). 

And by not buying anything, it seemed that this escalated her existing feeling state of agitation and guilt.  As sad as this made me feel, it didn’t influence my decision not to buy anything.

In the My Year Without Clothes Shopping Program, we explore how your shopping partners, or shopping solo, impact on your shopping behaviours as we know it’s going to be affecting you somehow. 

What is important to explore is how your shopping partner/s affect your shopping behaviours.  It’s a fascinating area to shine the gentle light of your awareness on. 

Your mission

For the next few weeks, here’s my suggestion:  Pay closer attention to who you shop with, how they behave and what impact their presence and behaviour has on you. 

Once you have some ‘good intel’ on how those you are shopping with are influencing your shopping behaviour and choices, it’s time to make some healthy decisions about what needs to change in your shopping behaviour and experiences.  If this means you shop less with some friends, or stop shopping with them altogether, then have the courage to follow through on that decision.

There’s always the option of doing something else together with friends for whom it is not in your best interests to shop with.  Meet in a coffee shop for lunch in an area where there are no stores to browse or buy in. Join a class together, or start an activity like walking together or being part of a book club.  There are many other things you can do together besides shop – you are limited only by your imagination!  (and if you need some ideas to inspire your life apart from shopping, check out the Shop Less And Live More daily postcards!).

Remember that changing your shopping partners doesn’t mean you love the people in your life any less.  In fact, stopping shopping with them may be one of the most loving things you can do for them, and for yourself.


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    10 Responses to “Partners in Crime: How Who You Shop With Affects Your Shopping Behaviour”

    1. Julia says:

      I have a friend I did a lot of clothes shopping with in the past. We still go shopping together at times, but she is doing a much better job at sticking to her specific list of what her wardrobe needs after a wardrobe overhaul starting in 2011. I went through almost everything in my closet in 2011, donated an awful lot of stuff to charity, and organized the remaining things better so I can actually find what I am looking for.

      In the past 6 months, I have been out shopping with her several times, and only twice have I walked out of a store with something I didn’t walk in intending to buy. Both times I checked with my husband before making the purchase, letting him know what it was I wanted to buy (including taking my first camera phone in a dressing room mirror picture to send it to him so he could see exactly what he was being asked to sign off on), and the first purchase was worn within 2 weeks of my acquiring it. (The second was purchased less than a week ago, and the weather may not permit its wearing this month, but I should be able to wear it next month at some point.)

      Since I decided to cut back drastically on impulse purchases and I have a much better idea of what I actually own, even shopping with someone more prone to impulse purchases doesn’t result in more than usual. I decided I needed a healthier mindset regarding clothing purchases, figured out what it should be, and just strove for it. That sounds easy, but unless you’ve had practice in deciding what your mindset should be and committing to it, it’s not. I’ve had that kind of practice, though, so it was easier for me than it would have been 15 years ago.

      • Jill Chivers says:

        thanks for this comment Julia – really shows what a conscious decision followed by action can do. The practice of having your husband sign off on items is a good one, and all of us can do some version of that even if we aren’t married or in a relationship (the Power Pause is good for that – waiting at least 2 hours after seeing something you like before buying it. I have a two-day Power Pause period, and am often amazed at how quickly I forget about the item once I’ve walked away from it). The conscious part of the equation is very important – that’s where so many people let themselves down, as they go shopping in a bit of a haze, ‘auto pilot shopping’ I call it. Sounds like you have a great system in place for ensuring you’re happy with all the shopping you choose to do – good for you!

    2. Marianne says:

      I have a question about The 30 Day Shop Your Wardrobe Challenge that is on your website. I am doing this with some other people, and we all had a question about Day 4: Something that’s “just for good.”

      Can you explain what you mean by “just for good?” Thank you!!

      • Jill Chivers says:

        hi Marianne – delighted to hear that you and a few other people are doing the 30 Day Shop Your Wardrobe Challenge – I’d love to hear how you find it! “Just for good” refers to those items that are either of a high quality or a high price (or both) and we have kept them on reserve for wearing only on “good” (or special) occasions. It may be the expensive black wool crepe pants that we bought for an engagement party and don’t wear on a regular basis, because somehow in our minds they are only “for good (special) occasions”. Or it may be another item of clothing that has an equally “good” designation, meaning it rarely gets worn, or at least not with any regularity. Perhaps its an accessory (blingy earrings, a glitzy belt, a glittery bangle, etc) or perhaps its shoes.

        I hope this clarifies! And I hope you enjoy the remainder of your 30 day Shop Your Wardrobe challenge!

        • Marianne says:

          Thank you Jill! We are going to do that tomorrow. We are really enjoying the challenge and two of the women are sending photos of what they’ve chosen to wear. And thanks for making it fun for us! Marianne

          • Jill Chivers says:

            hi Marianne – so glad this has been fun for you guys, and hopefully enlightening (at least a little bit), too!

            • Marianne says:

              Extremely enlightening! It makes me appreciate what I have and it makes not shopping actually fun. Three of us are still doing the challenge together; I’m on Day 8 tomorrow: wear something daring or exciting. What can I wear that would be daring or exciting to work?! I’m really stumped a bit! Any ideas? Also, what do you mean by ‘styled’ dress, skirt, or pants (Days 5 and 20?) Thank you!!

            • Jill Chivers says:

              hi Marianne – so interesting to explore for yourself what “daring or exciting” might mean, isn’t it? I can’t say what it might be for you… for me, daring and exciting was when I started wearing animal print to work. That felt VERY daring, and VERY exciting. But that’s me – it might be different for you. And ‘styled’ is intended to refer to making an effort in how you put that outfit together – don’t just throw on the same skirt, dress or pants you usually wear – “style” it, like a stylist might for a magazine shoot. How you style it? That’s up to you, and an invitation to play and explore! Have fun!

    3. flossie says:

      Hello, this article rings so many bells for me! My sister has been my enabler over the years and we have had many fabulous shopping days where she buys nearly nothing and I come home with more than i set out to get. ‘ We laugh , get on a roll… and the ka-ching factor steps in like we are two inebriated shoppers with no boundaries…except upon realisation, I see I have been influenced due to my weakness for gorgeous colours and fabrics! Hmmmm food for thought!

      • Jill Chivers says:

        Yes, always interesting to reflect on your buying behaviour when in the company of others (or alone). It can be a real light bulb moment to realise that shopping with particular people, including those we might love very much, is not helping us. Perhaps it’s a short term thing, perhaps it’s a longer-term thing… but realising how other people impact our buying behaviour is such an important piece of information, and can help those of us who overshop to make better, smarter, healthier choices that serve us. And, there’s always so many other things to choose to do with those we love and enjoy spending time with – we are limited only by our imaginations!

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