Sunday, 26 January 2014

Confessions of a Shopaphobe

I am a shopaphobe, if such a word exists. If it doesn’t then it ought to - and I want it to be added to the Oxford English Dictionary immediately, with the following definition:

A person for whom shopping is a complete nightmare.

Whenever I hear or read about people wanting to improve their mood through retail therapy, I want to scream in anguish on their behalf.

There is no such thing as retail therapy; there is only retail trauma!

If I were feeling low and depressed, the last thing I would do is head off to Manchester city centre or the Trafford Centre in order to combat my dark mood. Such a trip would almost certainly push me over the edge and you would find me sitting cross-legged in the car park rocking backwards and forwards while chanting something incoherent about shopping malls from Hell.

I hate shopping.

I have always hated shopping.

I think I always will hate shopping.

If you are a shopaholic, you may be reading this and shaking your head in disbelief, asking yourself how retail therapy can be rebadged as retail trauma by an idiotic old fool in Manchester.

Allow me to explain:

Shops are generally overcrowded.

Whenever I head towards the city centre or the Trafford Centre, our local piece of Hell, I suddenly become aware that I am becoming increasingly agitated. I am reminded of a Star Trek episode from the original series called The Mark of Gideon, in which Captain Kirk finds himself on a planet that is so overcrowded that there is absolutely no privacy and nowhere free of huge throngs of people, eternally crushed against each other.
Captain Kirk's view of the Trafford Centre

You have to queue for changing rooms, queue to pay, even queue to browse for books and CDs. The staff are run off their feet and seem to be in a constant state of flux, darting around with three pairs of shoes for three separate customers to try on, or struggling to answer questions from around six people about the latest smart TV’s.

I am not claustrophobic at all, but in places like the Trafford Centre on a Saturday afternoon, I find myself fighting to escape. The shops are full but so is the shopping mall itself. There is no escape – except to fight your way out of the place and breathe in precious oxygen in the inevitable rainstorm outside.

I can be indecisive.

Such is my hatred of shopping that I have to decide exactly what I want to buy before I embark upon my trip to the shopping mall from Hell. I have a plan etched into my mind; I know exactly what I want, in which colour and from which shop.

The problem is that when I get there, I find myself changing my mind, particularly if I see something similar that may be slightly more appealing or even better. I am then torn and end up wandering around looking for other alternatives, possibly at a cheaper price. Basically my plan crumbles quicker than badly built skyscraper in a massive earthquake and I either spend hours searching for something else or arrive home disappointed with nothing to show for my trauma.

Mrs PM is indecisive.

Mrs PM claims not to be indecisive - but she is.

I learnt a long time ago not to go shopping for clothes with Mrs PM. Sadly, sometimes, she insists and I have to spend hours in a woman’s clothes shop while she tries of dress after dress after dress, shoe after shoe after shoe, coat after coat after coat, skirt after skirt after skirt – you get the picture.

Even worse, this is not just limited to clothes. If we need something for the house – an item of furniture, a carpet, paint etc. it is even worse. The amount of money we have to spend is potentially larger for such items – so she has to get it right. Consequently I feel that I may as well take a tent and supplies to such shops so that I can bed down for the night while she decides exactly what will fit in our house, what the exactly colour scheme match will be and whether the cats will be comfortable sitting on whatever we buy.

Women’s clothes shops are not designed for men.

You may have seen the episode of Father Ted where a bunch of priests are trapped in the lingerie section of a department store.

I feel the same way as Father Ted but at least I have an excuse because I am with Mrs PM.

The problem is that she is so indecisive (see previous point) that she goes to the changing room with around two hundred  items to try on, leaving me standing outside the changing room like a spare part for the best part of two hours.

Worse, every single ladies' clothes shop has the changing room right next to or within the lingerie section.

What sadistic psychopath dreamt up THAT layout?

I am left standing outside trying my best not to appear to be staring at women’s knickers, bras or the mannequins modelling them.

No matter how obvious it is that I am waiting for my lovely lady, I can’t help thinking that every single woman who sees me considers me to be some kind of colossal pervert who likes to hang around in the lingerie section.

Ikea is a Maze 

The worst shop in the world is Ikea.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the wares for sale in Ikea.

What I hate is the shop itself and the layout of the place. I have a theory that there are people who like to explore dark and inhospitable places who will draw the line at exploring their local Ikea simply because it is like a huge labyrinth that is impossible to escape from.

I am convinced there are people who visited for a set of glasses two weeks ago who are still trying to escape from there.

Even if you know how to negotiate your way out of the place, you still end up buying ten times the amount of furniture or household equipment that you planned to buy when you walked through the doors. The worst thing about the store is that you walk around, lifting box after box of build-it-yourself furniture onto you shopping trolley and then have to find a way to somehow cram it into the car for the fifteen mile journey home.

And Finally

There are many more reasons why shopping is a pastime conceived by a particularly devious and sadistic demon from Beelzebub’s legion of pain and I will no doubt elaborate on those in a future post.

In the meantime, I am sure that there are people out there who are shopaholics and absolutely love to traipse around shops for hours and hours on end.

Over to you, dear reader. 

Are you a Shopaphobe or a Shopaholic?

If you are a Shopaholic, why do you think shopping is therapeutic?

More importantly, have you any tips to help me overcome my fear and hatred of places like the Trafford Centre.

My own way is to avoid these places and shop online.

I wonder whether I can get a doctor’s note excusing me from shopping because of “shopaphobia”?

It’s worth a try. All I have to do is video myself after a trip to Ikea.

That would convince even the most sceptical doctor.


Grace said...

I feel your pain. I am a shopaphobe of the highest order. My husband hates to go shopping with me - I know what I want, I go directly to that part of the store, I flip through their stock, if I can't find what I want I am out of there. I also complain endlessly about the design of department stores and malls - a virtual rats maze with no reward if and when you ever get to your destination. Because they are out of stock!

That's why I do all my shopping on-line now - in less time, with less aggravation I can comparison shop and know what's in stock. Of course with shipping and all of that, instant gratification is off the table, but still - NO: crowds, walking in circles, frustration in finding what you want, lines, second guessing the price - the positives just go on and on.

I HATE shopping - for anything, anywhere except from the comfort of my desk chair.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Grace,

Thanks for that - I feel much better!


The only problem I have with online shopping is clothes - because I like to try them on first.

Apart from that, I am with you all the way.




JahTeh said...

My sister can go straight through our local shopping mall, have coffee, buy all she wanted and be on the bus home without raising a sweat.
I love the place but due to the panic/stress thing I have, must stay away during school holidays. I usually have a list but all always distracted by shiny objects like book covers on the sale tables. I know the location of every 'ladies' and coffee shop with the comfy seats but the number one rule is...never backtrack, always work towards the entrance and leave before sanity does.

River said...

I like grocery shopping, I have a list and mostly stick to it, only very occasionally buying things not on the list, if I see something I need but forgot to write it down, or if something is on special so I'll buy extra.
Furniture shopping can take weeks of searching in stores and online after which I'll usually decide to make do with what I already have.
Clothes shopping is a nightmare I try to avoid as long as possible.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi River,

I hate grocery shopping - probably more than any other kind of shopping.

I sense another post coming ...




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi JT,

Distraction is a curse I suffer from too.

I would drink coffee but that sends me crazy too (see post about Caffeine Bomb).




H2B said...

I LOVE shopping! I would love to be a professional shopper. Even my hubby's workmates will ask me what to get for special b-day.
My best friend just gave me $20k to completely change her wardrobe. That is the best kind of shopping, spending others' money.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi H2B,

That would make you a shopaholic then.

I tell you what, If you ever make it to the UK, I will give you some money to do my shopping! But be warned - it will be groceries - and it won't be £20K.




H2B said...

No, I'm not a shopaholic because I don't have the urge to buy unnecessary stuff or have a big credit card debt.
I do love looking at new stuff and find a bargain.

I am more of a shopping connoisseur.

Analogy: not all wine connoisseur are alcoholic.

H2B said...

Oh, I would happily do the grocery shopping for you,

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi H2B,

So you are a shopophile then.


And re the grocery shopping?

You're on!