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The theory of impulse buying and why you think you need to


by Ellen Bird
16th Apr 2019
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Impulse buying is a bit like eating pizza. You say you’re going to eat healthily, but the next minute you’re ordering a greasy double-cheese pizza with garlic dip on the side. I’m a lover of pizza, but I’m an even bigger lover of fashion (don’t hate me). There’s just something about the smell of new clothes and beautiful-looking department stores that’s addictive and makes me wonder if I should pay a visit to Shopaholics anonymous.

You know those check-out counters beautifully adorned with pink make-up pouches, sugary jellies, fancy soaps and white ankle socks? I used to be the girl stuffing her already overfull shopping bag with all these added extras I didn’t actually need. But about a month ago, I had a frightening realisation that I’d constantly been throwing money away on brief feel-good moments. There was no mind-blowing revelation. I’m a recent broke graduate (hello, nice to meet you) with an unhealthy shopping habit. Simple as. Funds were becoming scarce, and I could no longer continue to make stupid impulse buys. So I began to take a different approach – a minimalist approach.

Comfort buying

I’m not a psychologist, but impulse buying seems to be all about filling a void. When your life feels like it’s going downhill, you reach for something that will comfort you or give you a momentary high – whether that’s eating endless tubs of Ben & Jerry’s, developing an unhealthy relationship with the gym or scrolling mindlessly through Asos.com late at night. Basically, impulse shopping is the sartorial equivalent of eating chocolate; it’s instantly comforting and you get an immediate high (unfortunately that doesn’t last). There will always be another pair of gorgeous black boots to buy, another fabulous moisturiser, and a need for Benefit’s newest mascara, even though you have a L’Oréal collection at home. One of the problems with impulse buying is our inability to differentiate between what we need and what we want. But impulse buying never fixes “the problem”. If I’m self-conscious about my hips, throwing money at a new pair of jeans won’t change that insecurity, but only feed it more.

Related: Fabrics to avoid and embrace if you want to make more sustainable fashion choices

We’re all guilty of an impulse buy, but some of us have specific weaknesses. For me, it’s a good autumn coat, but I’ve been surviving quite well on the collection I’ve acquired so far. Sure, an impulse buy might make you feel better about yourself for a second, but why? How much of this habit is informed by irrational decisions manipulated by your own mind? For the sake of my mistreated debit card, I’ve decided to make a well-needed change. So instead, I’ve now become addicted to shopping online (sort of). I pack up an extensive online shopping cart but never actually go through with the transaction – it’s half-feeding my habit. But I’ll admit, it isn’t the same as physically feeling that purply ruffled coat or multicoloured feathery sweater.


Related

  • The impressive, Irish innovators leading the way in sustainable fashion…here
  • Five simple ways we can all shop more ethically, and build better wardrobes…here
  • Calling all fashion-lovers: These are eight documentaries you need to see…here