Stressful shopping

18 October 2012

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I absolutely love shopping. Clothes, shoes, make up, toiletries and even your run-of-the-mill weekly groceries. I love the satisfaction of snapping a great bargain and strutting around a big shopping centre like I’m Kate Moss.

Source: Wikimedia commons

But there are the times (in fact most of the time) where all I want to do is go straight in and out of a shop, stopping only to get what I need. I write a list or make a mental one and set off on my shopping mission.

But the thing with missions is there’s always someone evil trying to ruin your plan. In the case of shopping, it’s retail shop assistants.

Just once, I would like to walk in to SUPRE’ and not have to endure the very loud and high pitch ‘Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii! Can I help you with any thing?’ (I’m only kidding, I don’t actually shop at SUPRE’)

Yes I do realise they’re there to help us and they’re only doing their job, but some of them often do more harm than good. I’m sure you’ve all been there. That shop assistant that got a bit too cosy in the dressing room, the one that followed you round the shop only suggesting expensive things and what’s even worse, the perky assistant with horrible taste in fashion who tried to convince you to buy that hideous dress.

I’m almost too scared to go shopping alone.

It was only the other day that I set out on a shopping venture to suddenly feel stressed and alert by a shop assistants intervention.

I had a very specific plan. I needed a pair of heels to match with a dress for a very modest price. I was aiming around the fifty dollar mark. Nothing fancy, they were only to be worn for the night and their only requirement was to match the dress.

I was going from shop to shop quite pleasantly trying to find the exact pair and eventually spotted them in a shop window. The assistant in the shop was very friendly and nice, helping me hold up my dress to make sure they matched and offering helpful advice.


As soon as I even hinted towards possibly purchasing the shoes, she quickly wrapped them up saying ‘I’ll put them in a bag for you’, and headed straight for the counter. The problem was that I hadn’t had the chance to look at the price yet. The whole thing happened so abruptly that I started to panic.

What if they were really expensive? I only had a certain amount of money on my card and it would be terribly embarrassing if it declined. If she tells me how much and it’s too expensive, what do I say? How do I get out of this?

After politely asking me if I would like the clutch that matched the shoes (No thank you, I have plenty of clutches and I don’t need you selling me even more stuff when I don’t even know how much these shoes are!), she finally told me the shoes were sixty dollars (huge sigh of relief).

Although the shoes weren’t too expensive and I was happy to pay for them, I couldn’t help but wonder what I would have done if they had cost more. The shop assistant hadn’t exactly given me an easy out and it could’ve turned into a really awkward situation had they been too expensive.

Would I have fallen victim to her evil ways and ended up paying a lot more then I actually wanted?

It’s not just their oftentimes sneaky sales tactics that have turned me off shop assistants. Shopping for bras has become a stressful experience on a whole other level now that ‘bra fitting experts’ have entered the scene. And yes that is actually a real occupation.

Walking through a shopping centre is also becoming a health and safety hazard. Sales assistants are constantly spraying perfume at people innocently passing by and our attempts to avoid eye contact with any of them has more and more people running into each other.

Perhaps this is why online shopping has sky rocketed over the years. Maybe it’s not actually the convenience of buying a pair of shoes from the comfort of your couch but more so the fact that you won’t have to encounter the awkwardness and pushiness of a shop assistant. Retailers have tried to combat the success of online shopping with ‘friendly service’ and ‘a face to face experience’, but I think Coles and Safeway have gotten it right with their self serve machines.

It gives us the option of quickly running in and out of the shops without having to make awkward small talk or even look at anyone, which is extremely handy when doing a late night pyjama ice cream run (I have now mastered it, I’m pretty much a ninja it’s that fast). So I propose that all stores, clothing, makeup and so on, should also give us the self serve option because sometimes some of us would rather go shoeless than be pestered by an over enthusiastic shop assistant.

And if this doesn’t happen sometime in the near future I may just have to resort to wearing a ‘do not disturb sign’ around my neck.

Sam McMeekin is a third-year Bachelor of Journalism student at La Trobe University and is one of upstart’s staff writers. You can follow her on Twitter: @sammcmeeks