"When two women shop together, they talk, advise, suggest and consult to their heart's content, hence the long time in the store," Underhill concludes. It's a social activity that can result in bonding. Often there is a healthy cross-fertilization of ideas. When shopping is wrapped around a meal, there's time for disclosure. Women tend to boost each other's egos in this environment, making the activity even more positive, and pleasurable.
Buying gifts is another way that women connect through shopping, whether the gift is for themselves or others. "I bought three oil paintings by artist Pat West, one very large called 'Virginia Rain' and two small, 'Monterey Coast' and 'Hawaii at Night.' They are places that I love, and they currently hang in my bedroom where I can enjoy them," says Carol who has family in all three locations.
Seeking and finding just the right items for you, family members and friends is a pleasure-filled experience. Women often envision a wide range of possibilities — comfort, delight, or perhaps knowledge — that the gift is meant to provide, often investing large amounts of time making their choices.
Although we've all heard of compulsive shoppers who do serious damage to their bank accounts, most of us shop in moderation. We go to the market to fill basic needs: food, shelter and clothing. We go too to feel better about ourselves by doing something concrete: buying a suit that helps us project a professional image and ace tomorrow's job interview; selecting postcards so we feel more connected to distant relatives and friends; or buying a vacation that will restore our very souls.
Joseph Campbell said, "Money is congealed energy, and releasing it releases life's possibilities." Today's women have more buying power than any time in past history. And many of them are really releasing lots of possibilities. Shopping in its many forms offers almost endless scenarios for enjoyment and self-realization. For the women who experience its most positive effects, shopping is therapy.