Are You A Shopping Bulimic?

FlickrThe New York Post reported this week on what must be a fairly new phenomenon:

Shopping bulimia.

The term refers to women who binge and purge new clothing and accessories, often by ordering them online and then returning most of what they've purchased.

Sites like Zappos and Shopbop, which offer free shipping on returns, are said to fuel the bulimic shopping fire-- and some stores have loosened their return policies in order to stay competitive with online shopping sites.

I personally find returns to be a nightmare, but what about you?

Are you a bulimic shopper?

I'll admit I'm more likely to order clothes from a site that has an actual store here in Nashville- That way, if what I've ordered doesn't work out, I can physically take it back to the store.

The prospect of boxing up an online order and going to my post office to send it back is nightmarish.

But in the New York Post story, one woman admits to spending two hours each weekend returning the online items she's purchased.


Another interesting point in the story was what happened after the store Intermix loosened its return policy and began offering cash refunds on returned clothing:

'The sales personnel immediately noticed a change in their shoppers. “Oh my God, chronic returners are now 50 percent of our customers,” exclaims a sales associate at the Upper West Side Intermix.'

That would have to be very annoying.

So what do you think about shopping bulimia? Real problem or hyped-up news story?


Image via pawpaw67/Flickr



accessories, bargains, bags, clothes, shopping


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Holly Graves

This entire article is a badly written, completely un-researched bit of ignorance that causes judgment against people with REAL eating disorders.

Also, the word is bulimic, not bulemic. No one is going to take you seriously with such a bad spelling error.

Paper... Paperfishies

I believe it is becoming a real problem, especially with the shitty economy.  Consumers will buy something, use it, then return it realizing they couldn't really afford the purchase in the first place.  I have a really good friend who works for MAC Cosmetics.  They have a 30 day return policy whether you have used the makeup or not.  During prom/wedding season females will come to the counter spend $100, use the makeup for a few days, then bring the cosmetics back for a full cash refund or credit to their card.  Another friend who works at forever 21 also sees people returning clothing that has already been worn...Forever 21 has adopted a policy that you can only return items for store credit, no cash refunds are given.  I do believe more stores should adopt a policy such as this.  When people buy things, use them, then return the item it drives up costs for all of us.

lovin... lovinangels

I absolutely know several people like this.

And it sounds like someone is super protective of her eating disorder. She didn't invent the term, and it doesn't make anyone think anything about people with eating disorders.

Personally, I don't do returns.

Elizabeth Pattison

Yes I return things, especailly if I order shoes online. Because you never know if they will fit properly or not. Sites like endless and zappos do make it very easy to return. Actually returning things you bought online is a lot easier than you think, because most of them are free return via UPS. All I have to do was box them up, print out the label, and drop it off at my local UPS store. 95% of the time there was no lines unlike the post office. I think another reason I return things I bought from the stores, just like  Melanie, I hate trying on clothes at the store. It is such a hassel. I rather buy them and try them on in the comfort of my home. If they don't fit, they go back.

Marsh... MarshaCWP

Having been in an eating disorders recovery group, I think bulimia is the perfect way to describe this.  Overindulge to the point of illness, feel guilty, purge to relieve guilt.  Bulimic is a perfect analogy for this type of buy and return.

I rarely return anything because it's such a hassle.  Since what I buy is usually a real bargain, if it doesn't work for me, I donate it and take the tax deduction.

emmas... emmasmama2007

I actually prefer trying out clothes in store for the fact that, if I know it fits I don't have to deal with returning. It is also what has kept me from ordering online. The only time I've returned something was when ds's dad bought him some outfits that he would outgrow in a week. i've always bought their clothes a size bigger.

purpl... purpleducky

Spellcheck is your friend. I don't mind typos on CM but this is a professional blog so there shouldn't be typos. It's bulimic not bulemic.

AnuMeha AnuMeha

Hmm.... my views on this one are going to be a little different. I too analyze this pattern. Ya now there is a shift in the trend of shopping. Confessions of a  Shopaholic: I'm not a shopaholic but knows what goes inside the mind of shopaholics. There would be many who indulge themselves in window shopping, I too belong to this category & then the others who are compulsive buyers. Though this lot would indulge themselves in shopping but later on guilt factor may take them on. If they get a chance to shop & but not spend then they would cherish this fact. Right? Here comes an easy option of ordering online where the lot can indulge themselves in shopping, buying the most expensive things as per their choice. Hence the satisfaction role plays here. By the time they receive the item ordered their satisfaction criteria gets met & then they can save the money by not receiving the item when it gets delievered. The easiest is to return the goods ordered. This is it. This is how a shopping bulemic acts.... 

Ashley Gregory

I'm disappointed that Holly was so critical here. I've seen college coaches refer in the press to issues with a team member as a "cancer" within the team, and it certainly does not minimize the seriousness of the disease because common sense tells us that team conflict, in reality, is not comparable to a life threatening disease. It's simply an analogy, as is bulimia here. Similarly, this article was written to address an issue and used a comparison to make a point. The author seems to trust the common sense of readers to recognize the difference in severity between shopping "bulimia" and the eating disorder.

Lynette Lynette

I used to have a friend that did this a lot.  She got banned from returns at Target because of this.  Her closet was full of things that still had tags on them.  It's not me at all.  I hate the process of returning things.

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