Avoiding shopping triggers: time-killing shopping

One month in to my challenge, and so far, so good. Well, to be honest, not buying clothes for a month has not been particularly taxing as I’d often go this length of time anyway.

That said, however, on a recent trip to London I had a couple of hours to kill whilst waiting for my husband to finish a meeting, and my habitual response to having time to kill in central London is to shop to pass the time – after all, they have all these lovely shops that we don’t have here, and I have nothing else to do, right? Instead of clothes shopping though, since I knew avoiding them was the best way of not buying anything, I ended up browsing cosmetics and stationary shops, and making a few purchases in them. Although I like the new haircare I bought from Lush (Happy Happy Joy Joy conditioner is all kinds of awesome), the experience of buying it was pretty dull and not really life enhancing, especially since, being in London, there are tonnes of great museums, galleries, libraries and so on in which I could have passed a happy couple of hours at little expense.

This got me thinking about the kind of situation in which I tend to shop, a shopping ‘trigger’ if you like. I don’t enjoy shopping, shopping is not a hobby in my view, and clothes shopping is rarely something I set out purposely to do. It’s less ‘I’m going to spend Saturday afternoon in town looking for a raincoat’ and more ‘I’m in town doing X and OH LOOK at that lovely skirt in the window there, I’ll just pop in… thinking about it, I could use some jeans since the cut of mine isn’t quite right…’, or ‘I’m kind of bored with my studying, I’m going to browse eBay for a few minutes, of yes, that skirt will definitely work better than the one I have…’. In the case of this London trip, the trigger was that I was bored and waiting around, and the shops were RIGHT THERE inviting me in.

The common theme to many of my reasons for shopping seems to be killing time and boredom – I’m in a situation where I’ve time to kill or I’m bored of what I’m doing, and shopping seems to be the easiest thing to do at that moment. Because, of course, a new skirt will TOTALLY make me less bored next time I’m in the same situation! Interestingly, none of the times I can recall that I’ve felt the urge to buy new clothes have been when I’ve been looking in my wardrobe at the clothes I already have… i.e. seeing that I am short of clothes and need some more.

Having recognised what it is that drives me to shop for the most part is useful, I think, as it will allow me to try to avoid the trigger situation (not getting bored would be nice!), or at least be more mindful of it and manage it. Next time I’m in London and know I’m going to have time to kill, I’m going to look up a museum or an exhibition within reasonable distance. Next time I’m aimlessly surfing the web, I’ll get up and find something more interesting to do (like continuing the hideous mess that is my first attempt to knit socks). It’s just a case of breaking the habit.


2 thoughts on “Avoiding shopping triggers: time-killing shopping

  1. Helen

    Top tip – ALWAYS carry a book! Which is not to say I am immune to the random shop attack, but if the book’s good enough I can make a cup of coffee last a loooong time!


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