Shopping takes energy. Even if you like it, a day of shopping can wear you out. And if you don't like shopping, well, it makes sense to try and avoid it if you possibly can. There are clothes you need to find, places you need to go, and decisions you have to make. All of it can get complicated—especially if you need something specific in a particular size and online shopping is just not working out for you.
So, what to do?
Lay out your battle plan and conquer the mall! Here are five tips for streamlining the shopping process.
A priority of any effort is to define what you are trying to accomplish. You know you have to go shopping, but for what? If you don't like shopping, there was usually an unfortunate event, an inciting incident. Did your favorite t-shirt just rip? Did you get a stain on a pair of white capris? Did you break a heel? Whatever happened, you need another one.
Since you know you can no longer avoid a trip to the mall, take the opportunity to look around at your wardrobe to see if there is anything else that needs replacing. Are your comfy pajamas shredding? Need some new underwear anyway? Are your best tall pants on their last legs? Use your "unfortunate event" as a catalyst to knock out that shopping list your wardrobe has been developing.
The idea is to figure out as specifically as possible what you are looking for. When you know what you need, it is easier to figure out how to find it. This is your mission. Now you know what you are trying to accomplish.
Also, keep in mind the alternative strategy is to schedule making a trip to the mall once a month or so into your calendar. This keeps your clothing needs from building up on you—depending on how hard you are on your wardrobe, of course. 'Til then, reader, continue your battle plan.
Once you know what you are looking for, you can investigate where those clothes are likely to be. Checking on the brand and size of the last one is a good place to start if you aren't sure. Take your measurements and compare them to the size charts so you have a reasonable idea of how a piece is likely to fit you. See if there is some overlap, like if one store has petite dresses and cute shoes in your size, or any other combination of multiple pieces. If so, you can simplify your shopping stops and get everything you need at once when you are there.
When you know what you need and you know your locations, there are two further points to take into account. The first is an efficient shopping route. The easiest way to decide this is to prioritize what you need via a list. See what would take the pressure off if you could get it done today. Put those things at the top.
When your priority list is complete, map out the store locations that have those things and see what is close to what. Consolidate as much as possible so you can spend as little time as possible doing what really needs to be done. Keep in mind that you may want to break up your shopping into two or more excursions if you know that trying to do everything in one day will just make you want to throw up your hands and start sewing your trash bags together for clothes.
The list's secondary purpose is to make sure you (and whoever you may be bringing with you for moral support) don't get sidetracked. Every good battle plan needs a defense strategy, and that is what your list is. It will keep you focused on what you need, and it will help customer service people direct you to where you want to go. Remember, stores are built by professionals to entice you in and get you to spend money. Resist! Hold on to your list tightly, and keep moving forward!
You have a shopping route that will get you where you want to go. Now you need to figure out when would be a good time to put the plan into action. If you have a flexible job or a day you can take off, you have the ideal opportunity to go when there aren't many people, and you can move quickly from one place to another. If you aren't that lucky, well, block out a day after work or, in the case of larger shopping enterprises, a day over the weekend and start prepping the coffee now.
All the pieces are in place. You have your mission. You have your locations and route. You have your strategy and defense. And you have your count down to mission start.