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Home > Blog > The Psychology of Shopping
Out of Our Minds
Sunday, November 28, 2004 8:21 AM
The Psychology of Shopping
Kevin Salwen on Culture

Forget the turkey. Forget the family bonding. We all know what Thankgiving is really about: resting up before hitting the stores. And hit them we do: by the time one Fry's Electronics store near me opened at 6 a.m. on Friday, there were 300 people waiting outside. By 7:30 a.m., several of the major malls in Atlanta reported parking lots at 100% capacity.

This is serious competition -- and that's what I think changes the nature of this shopping experience. The fact is, shopping is just not all that interesting. (Another sweater anyone? Zzzzz.) But throw in the early-bird specials, the door-buster pricing, the bargain bin and about a thousand equally determined cheapskates -- now that's entertainment. Suddenly, shopping (and even finding a parking space) gets to our basest caveman (and cavewoman) instincts.

Eat what you kill. Beat out your neighbor. Fight fight fight. (Should I mention that the gift will be returned anyway? Nah.)


3 comments

g - 12/6/2004 6:34:25 PM
Possibly interesting book for those so-minded... 'Margin' by Svenson.
Jenny - 12/6/2004 5:06:01 PM
All you have to ask yourself is: is this a need or a want, and why buy something you don't need and can't really afford in the long run. There are always sales.

We stopped buying presents a long time ago, and treat each other everyday with the true spirit of Christmas. It isn't a one day event for us.

Time is the best gift of all.
lee - 11/30/2004 9:13:42 PM
So much in our world has been turned into a commodity. About 4 catalogs are delivered daily and I am stunned by the sameness. When stores all appear to sell the same things, price is often the catalyst for a decision. The door-busting price leads to consumer behavior called 'cherry-picking.' Ultimately, the margins of retailers slide.

this year I am making a serious and intentional effort to shop differently -- crafts shows, alternative giving through Heifer International, small stores. I am finding unique items and believe that I am helping to support artisans and small retailers. I feel much better about my shopping and hope that those on my gift list feel better about their gifts. By the way, several people are getting subscriptions to Worthwhile!

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