The Why Behind the Buy

Understanding consumerism and why we buy

Experts Make the Same Holiday Shopping Mistakes that You Do

Holiday shopping is full of "coulda, shoulda, woulda's"

Holiday shopping is full of "coulda, shoulda, woulda's." As in, "I could have gotten if for less if I'd waited," "I should have bought it last week, now it's sold out," or "I would have just gotten her a gift card if I'd known it was going to cost this much to mail it." It seems like you have to be a retail expert to get through the holiday shopping season without a few slip-ups and regrets.

It turns out that even the experts get tripped up by the same shopping mistakes as everyone else: overbuying, procrastination, impulsive purchasing and falling prey to promotions. It might be a comfort to know that even though retail pros know better - and all the in's-and-out's - the rush of the season can get the best of anyone.

Retail analyst Jennifer Black, President of Jennifer Black and Associates, spends a lot of time in malls - after all it's her job to get a fix on who's buying what. You might think she'd be immune to the excitement of big promotions, but instead she says, "I get caught up in the fever like everyone else." On Black Friday she found herself at Victoria's Secret, "buying things I didn't need just to get the gift with purchase."

Find a Therapist

Search for a mental health professional near you.

Jayne O'Donnell, USA Today's retail reporter, knows all the tricks of the trade and she's a top-notch bargain shopper. Like over ⅓ of Americans she purchases holiday gifts months before Christmas. And like many others, she sometimes forgets what she's purchased. O'Donnell confessed that this year was no exception, "I did not keep good track of what we'd bought (daughter) Cate and so over-purchased."

Retail consultant, Doug Stephens, otherwise known as The Retail Prophet, says that he shops, "irrationally like everyone else." He also laments that although he knows all about new digital shopping tools, "I don't leverage technology to its full potential when I'm making holiday gift decisions. I feel in too much of a hurry."

Just as you'd expect from the author of "Generation Earn" and the AlphaConsumer blog for U.S.News & World Report, Senior Editor Kimberly Palmer attacks holiday shopping by planning ahead, making a list and starting her shopping early. But she confesses, "I usually end up splurging on a few last minute in-store purchases that are entirely unnecessary." Palmer finds in-store demonstrations and tasty samples particularly alluring and recently left Williams Sonoma with a pricey bottle of olive oil that she described as, "not exactly a necessary purchase."

Like many, David Rogers, author of "The Network is Your Customer: 5 Strategies to Thrive in the Digital Age," is a holiday shopping procrastinator. Rogers says his holiday shopping takes place in three stages, "1) Denial, 2) Avoidance, 3) Amazon."

A lot of people will get to the end of the holiday shopping season wondering if they could have done better: spent less, gotten better deals, found better gifts or shopped more efficiently. Keep in mind that even top retail experts aren't perfect either.

 

 

Kit Yarrow is a professor of psychology and marketing at Golden Gate University in San Francisco.

more...

Subscribe to The Why Behind the Buy

Current Issue

Love & Lust

Who says marriage is where desire goes to die?