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Oily Rag - Shopper Watching

Oily Rag - Shopper Watching

By Frank and Muriel Newman

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

The first personality type is ‘shopaholics’. These are those who suffer an incessant retail craving, which Oilyragowikipedia 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 (who have studied everything about everything) found 33 per cent of shoppers had “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 peoples’ money!

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

The second personality type recognised is ‘hunters’. You can recognise these people 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 enables hunters to readily compare prices. Nowadays, the more IT enabled 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%, isle2; min by 6 rolls. Go4it”.

And 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, eating ice-cream and french fries, and 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 like a moth to a light. They are often seen in discount variety stores, or checking out the bargain bins in big box retail stores. 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 full of bargain buys that will come in handy one day (when we all know that one-day will never arrive).

The ‘power’ shopper is a shopper with a purpose. They don’t shop often, but when they do, they know what they want, and they usually know exactly where to find it. There is no mucking around - in, buy, out… 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: they see – buy – goodbye!

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, too this or too that. When they do buy something it is for small ticket items like feeding the parking meter (which they think should be free) or buying an ice cream (one scoop). Fortunately they are not seen all that often in shops because they are generally left at home in the garden or having a good laugh watching Grumpy Old Men on the tellie.

There you have it. Keep these shopping types in mind next time you go venturing out into the isles. You will be amazed how many you see. We find it more entertaining and cheaper than going to the movies!

Do you have a favourite tip to share with readers? If so, please send it to us at or write to Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei.


© Scoop Media

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