Good Shopping Requires Etiquette

Jun 18 , 2022
By Kidist Yidnekachew

I consider myself lucky when it comes to many things. But my luck runs out during shopping. I often end up buying clothes I do not like or would not wear twice. Whenever I plan to buy clothes, I do not find what I am looking for, or I do not have money on me when there are so many clothes I want – it is ironic. Other times I buy clothes I tried on either because the salesperson told me it looks good on me or I did not want to leave without buying anything after spending some time in the store trying three or four outfits.

Two things irritate me when it comes to shopping. Whatever clothes we pick, the salesperson tells us it looks good on us. It would be nice if she could at least make a variation of the degrees of good. But try on another piece of clothing, and the seller still goes, “wow, this one is really made for you.”

But wait, did the salesperson not say that about the last one?

“Yeah, but this one is even better,” the salesperson would reply.

So we are confused and have a limited budget; confused, we stand there waiting for validation. The chances are that we will pick another one if our choice is different from the one the sales picked. But rarely do we leave without buying, throw it in a plastic bag, go home and realise we do not even like it. Then we ask ourselves how we can let the salesperson talk us into buying this ridiculous outfit in the first place.

I have friends and relatives who own shops, selling either cosmetics, clothes or food. They often complain about people who visit their shops to “just look around.” This is a widespread experience. As a result, shop owners assess their customers the minute they enter their stores. If the person is dressed nicely, chances are they will spend money. If the person looks like someone who just woke up from their sleep, they do not bother to show them around or even ask what they want. Such customers get the star treatment only after they agree to buy something.

Although I do not want to be labelled, I understand where these shop owners are coming from in their profiling of walk-in customers along the fault lines of class. Many people come to boutiques and stores with no intention of buying. They just want to look around and even haggle for a price without having enough money in their pockets. It would be nice if they could tell the salesperson in the first place to save them the trouble of getting up and taking the clothes off from the dummies, which sometimes requires pulling the arms and legs apart.

But is that not supposed to be their job and do we not have to take our time in purchasing clothes or other goods so we will not have buyer’s remorse later?

It is not every day we buy clothes after all. It lasts for years so we must be cautious picking the clothes we like.

No doubt. But we should not give salespeople a hard time asking them to show us everything on the shelf to only leave without buying a single thing. We have to know what we want first and budget accordingly before entering a shop; that way we would not be a little kid who wants every cake on the shelf. When we know what we came to buy, we save both ourselves and the sales persons’ time and energy. And if we need to compromise, then we should go home to sleep on it before deciding. If it is something that we have been looking for, which is rare, we jump at the opportunity.

PUBLISHED ON Jun 18,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1155]

Kidist Yidnekachew is interested in art, human nature and behaviour. She has studied psychology, journalism and communications and can be reached at (

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