Oily Rag: Spot six styles of shoppers

By Frank, Muriel Newman

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After decades of watching shoppers, we would like to share our observations of shopping personalities.

The first type is the "shopaholic". Shopaholics suffer an incessant retail craving, which Oilyragopedia describes as follows: "Retail craving is shopping with the primary purpose of improving the buyer's mood or disposition. Often seen in people during periods of depression or transition, it is normally a short-lived habit but can develop into 'shopaholism' in chronic cases."

In 2001, the European Union found 33 per cent of shoppers had a "high level of addiction to rash or unnecessary consumption". This was causing debt problems for many, particularly young Scottish people and European politicians who are prone to overspending other people's money!

Shopaholics are easily recognisable because they usually shop with a sense of exuberance - and are even known to smile during the checkout process. They usually justify their recidivist shopping on the grounds that they are buying "essential" items, like chocolate biscuits and potato chips.

The second personality type recognised is the "hunter". You can recognise hunters because they are usually armed with a calculator, torch and notepad, and can be seen bending to the very lowest shelves or reaching to the very highest. They often work in pairs as this lets them readily compare prices.

Nowadays, the more tech-savvy hunters use text messaging and social media to alert other hunters to their discoveries. A text message about toilet paper may read something like this: "ABC 3ply-10 per cent, aisle2; min by 6 rolls. Go4it."

Then there are "grazers". These people graze the aisles in a bovine, Daisy the Cow-like manner. They can be seen ruminating about purchases before making a considered decision. Another form of grazer is the "window shopper" - they amble their way through retail precincts, occasionally pressing their noses against the display glass. Grazers don't have a specific purchase in mind. They just want to be around retail excitement, watching other people shop and struggle under the weight of their heavy shopping bags.

The fourth type of shopping personality is the "bargain-bin buyer". Typically this person shops alone - or if they have a spouse, they are usually seen sitting patiently on a bench nearby or reading the newspaper in the car. The bargain-bin buyer is drawn to sale signs and is often seen in discount stores or checking out other stores' bargain bins. We are told they sometimes fall into the bins and need to be retrieved feet first by panic-stricken staff who fear a visit from Osh.

They are often heard saying, "now that's a bargain", and their cupboards at home are usually stuffed with bargain buys that will come in handy "one day".

The "power" shopper is a shopper with a purpose. They don't shop often but when they do, they know what they want and usually know exactly where to find it. There is no mucking around - if you want it, buy it. It's no good saying "have a nice day" and other annoying pleasantries like talking about the weather to these people.

The last personality type is the shopping "grump". They detest shopping. When forced into dens of iniquitous spending, they drag their feet grumbling that everything is too expensive, not needed, too big or too small. When they buy something it is a small-ticket item such as feeding the parking meter (which they think should be free) or buying an icecream (one scoop).

Fortunately, they are not seen all that often in shops because they are generally left at home in the garden or are having a good laugh watching Grumpy Old Men.

Keep these shopping types in mind next time you go venturing out into the aisles. You will be amazed how many you see. It's more entertaining and cheaper than going to the movies!

Do you have a favourite winter tip you would like to share? Send it to us at www.oilyrag.co.nz or write to Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei. Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ.

- Hamilton News

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