Hit up Orchard Road on a weekend and you’ll practically be crowdsurfing waves of shopping bag-toting Singaporeans as they try on outfits at H&M, stare wistfully at designer handbags at Prada and buy useless brick-a-brack at Daiso. Singaporeans are, to put it mildly, avid shoppers, and even those who despise squeezing through the masses at Orchard Road can be found shopping online or hitting up the retail scene on overseas holidays.
Still, not everyone shops for the exact same reasons. While your friend might buy tons of clothes because he’s obsessed with looking perfect, your own shopping addiction might stem from the fact that you just don’t know what to do on the weekends. Here are four psychological factors that turn Singaporeans into rabid shoppers.
The desire to impress others
Like it or not, possessions play a big part in shaping one’s identity and sense of self. When you drop $7,000 on a Chanel bag, you’re making a statement about yourself, whether intentionally or not, as someone who can afford luxury. You might choose to drink Glenlivet and not Tiger Beer because you “enjoy the finer things in life”. Fashion retailers survive because people have a perpetual need to “express themselves” through their clothing.
And the fact that Vertu phones exist is a testament to the modern consumer’s drive to convey wealth and status. Everybody has that gal pal who is never seen in the same outfit twice. Well, we can guarantee her large wardrobe exists not only because she loves fashion, but also because she loves being thought of as a fashionable person.
In a city that’s covered in shopping malls, it’s easy to be enjoying a long, leisurely walk for all of 2 seconds before finding yourself surrounded by brash retailers. You’re not safe even on the commute to work as many MRT tunnels are lined with shops. Go out for a restaurant meal and you’ll find yourself walking through a gigantic mall filled with brands from all over the world.
It’s no wonder, then, that many people end up buying stuff just because they’re bored or the friend they were meeting was half an hour late. It’s just too easy to absent-mindedly wander into a shop and emerge an hour later in a daze, wondering how you got suckered into buying a pair of dominatrix boots or a Hello Kitty toaster.
The desire for a perfect life
See those stone-faced people on the MRT, their eyes glued to their smartphone screens? They’re all on the internet, staring wistfully at photos of their friends’ “perfect” lives on Facebook, scrolling through pictures of celebrities and how they spend their money, reading blogs composed of two lines of drivel and 10,000 OOTD pictures.
Now, more than ever, we’re faced with everyone else’s wonderful lives—and ours start to pale in comparison. The desire for a perfect life can spark off the pursuit of perfect hair, perfect clothes and perfect homes. And the only way to attain all these things is to pay for them.
The perception that you’ll miss out by not buying
Whenever there’s a fashion-related sale, observe the people in the shop. You’ll see them rifling through racks of clothes that the designer himself would be embarrassed to admit to having designed. You’ll see them staring glumly at themselves in the mirror of the changing room, trying to convince themselves that they’ll one day lose enough weight to fit into that item. Now, why, you might ask, would you want to buy something you have to persuade yourself to like?
The answer lies in the big sale sign in front of the store. Whenever there’s a sale, Singaporeans’ kiasu instinct kicks in and they start panicking that they’ll miss out on great “savings” if they don’t buy. Even if that shirt makes you look like a fatter version of Fred Flintstone, hey, it was 90% off and therefore a great deal.
What are some of the psychological impulses you experience when you shop? Tell us in the comments!