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Technology & Innovation

It’s No Mistake that Shopping Can be a Nightmare

By creating atmospheres that make you frustrated and anxious, shops can increase the likelihood that you’ll lose sight of your purchasing goals and begin buying items on impulse. 

What’s the Latest Development?

When it comes to creating atmosphere for holiday shopping, stores are more interested in getting you to spend money than in making your experience a comfortable one. And as it turns out, frustrated and irritated shoppers are likely to spend more money buying more items on impulse. “Music played at high volumes, for example, may be irritating, but researchers from Penn State and the National University of Singapore concluded it was one of several factors that leads to overstimulation and ‘a momentary loss of self-control, thus enhancing the likelihood of impulse purchase.'”

What’s the Big Idea?

There are alternatives to shopping in commercial centers such as catalog and online shopping. “But we might also turn our attention within, to ask why it is we’re so bothered by the lights and the crowds, so disturbed by anxiety that we’ll shop in order to make it go away.” Oliver Burkeman, a columnist for the Guardian, recommends we try the Buddhist practice of nonattachment by placing ourselves in busy stores with no intention of buying. Then, says Burkeman, “it suddenly becomes a purely exhilarating spectacle, as breathtaking, in its own way, as any waterfall or mountain panorama.”

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