Returner’s euphoria

The Friday after is known in retailing a Black Friday, the day that symbolizes the effect that Christmas shopping has on retailers’ profits. The current economic downturn makes it less likely that a retailer will end the year in the black, but it has magnified a trend amongst shoppers; circle shopping, buying and returning merchandise. It’s no longer known as “buyer’s remorse,” because in the brain chemistry of these shoppers euphoria comes with the purchase and the return.

The Boston Globe reports:

Gabrielle Mancuso, a nursing student and certified nursing assistant, adores shopping. American Eagle, TJ Maxx, H&M, those are her haunts. But with bad economic news bombarding her daily, there’s something that brings the stylish Mancuso more pleasure than buying jeans and tops: returning those jeans and tops — unworn.

“I get cash back,” Mancuso, 19, of Franklin, explained as she browsed at the Prudential Center recently. “It’s instant gratification.”

“There’s a weird euphoria when you return something,” said Michelle Foss, 33, as she shopped. “You’re relieved that it’s coming off your credit card.”

Unlike “wardrobers” – crooked shoppers who buy with the intention of using their purchases before returning them – returnistas are guilty of nothing more than a bad case of buyer’s remorse. Some have lost jobs and know they shouldn’t be shopping at all, others haven’t seen a decrease in income, but worry they should be saving for an uncertain future. Some feel guilty about spending when others can’t.

Most of us know the thrill of the buy, and perhaps both empathize and at the same time see the spiritual poverty in this behavior. There is sin here, and it includes the costs the behavior imposes on retailers and other buyers. At the same time, retailers know the thrill of the purchase, and have long used it in marketing.

Where is the church?

Breaking: Stock clerk dies in stampede at a Long Island Wal-Mart this morning.

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