Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 64, Tuesday April 21, 2009














Reader's Chit

Dealing with compulsive shopping

These days I wonder if I have really become a shopaholic. I go to the stores and there are too many things that I want to buy, some of which I do and the rest I dream of buying someday. However, when I am alone at home I wonder if I am really becoming a compulsive shopper.

I have always loved to shop. In Dhaka, I used to go from one boutique to another to choose a single dress. Even looking at and feeling the fabric was a pleasant experience. A chunk of my monthly salary was spent on clothes and shoes. But I could bring with me only three of my shalwar kameezes when I decided to travel some 13,000 km to the US for higher studies.

While packing, I realised that I had other more important things to carry with me to America than shalwar kameez, sari…in short, clothes. Today, when I calculate the amount of money I spent on clothes, some of which I never wore more than once, I feel guilty. The money could have been used for a better cause. What a waste!

I thought that the experience would teach me a lesson, teach me that one need not buy more than what one needs. But it appears that shopaholiism is rooted deep inside me. The American way of life has presumably made me a bigger lover of clothes and shoes than ever before. I feel pathetic when I return home from the mall and check my bank balance online, and I feel even more distressed when I pay my credit card bill at the end of the month.

I bought things, which I later realised that I didn't like much. One good thing about the American stores is that you can return goods without any hassle if you have the receipts. But every time I go to a store to return something, I end up buying something else. So most of the time, they turn out to be exchanges rather than refunds. The great return policy of the US stores is doing no good to my impulsive shopping.

These days I am trying to be my own mentor, teaching the shopaholic me that I shouldn't purchase on impulses and that I should ask myself if I need a thing before I buy it. I open my wardrobe and stare at the clothes, which I haven't worn yet, and ask myself “how many things can you live without?” I know the answer to the question but I don't know what happens to me when I step into a flashy store.

According to an article published on MSN Money, as many as 17 million Americans can't fight an urge to shop, even at the expense of their job, marriage, finances and family. I know I am not as serious a shopaholic, but even so, it's important that I break ties with my urge to shop before it becomes a problem for me.

The materialistic world is making us into greedier consumers. The question is who really benefits when I buy something that I don't need or even really want? The answer is probably the famed designers and the giant retailers. It's important for them that more and more of us fall into the vicious circle of compulsive shopping and spend money without thinking twice. T

Lanky fashion models, colourful ads, gala fashion shows and interactive virtual stores contribute to these businesses' profit-maximising motive and their objective to make people buy. Unfortunately, some of us fall prey to these fashion houses and retailers and as a result, shop carelessly, and fritter away the money that could have been spent in more responsible ways.

By Wara Karim



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