For Compulsive Browsers, On-Line Shopping is No Bargain

LADUE, Missouri.  Roy Griggins made enough money in his lifetime as a manufacturer of flanges and hasps to retire in comfort, but he still keeps a watchful eye on his bank balance.   “My wife Peggy loves to shop,” he says, shaking his head with a rueful smile.  “Or more precisely, she loves the experience of shopping–walking the length of the counter and then asking the salesgirl ‘Haven’t you got something just a little more expensive?’”

“I love spending my second husband’s first wife’s money!”


These days, of course, Peggy Griggins and the “gals” she used to go shopping with are stuck indoors, limited to on-line purchases and missing out on the camaraderie they enjoyed as they broke retail sales records in upscale malls around this affluent suburb of St. Louis.  “I miss Lenora at Schuchtermeir’s,” she says of her favorite employee at a local clothing store that specializes in bright pinks and greens in “preppy” stylings.  “It’s just not the same, watching the skies for some drone to arrive from something-or-other-dot-com,” she adds as she starts to make herself an Old Fashioned at 4:42 p.m., causing her husband to intervene.

“If I can’t go shopping, I’m going to get stinking drunk.”


“Not yet, Peg,” he says sternly.  “You know the rule.”

Peggy Griggins and others in her situation suffer from Shopping Deficiency Syndrome, or “SDS” as it is known in the short-hand parlance of the emergency rooms of hospitals here.  “We’re overwhelmed, so we need to practice ‘triage,’” says Dr. Wendell Murphy of NovaMatrixSignetYaddaYadda Healthcare, a regional hospital conglomerate.  “Women are wheeled in here who haven’t used their credit cards in five weeks, we treat them immediately.  Patients who were able to buy something frivolous on a recent shopping trip for ‘essentials’–their credit cards may still have a pulse in them.  We sedate them and plunk them down in front of the Home Shopping Channel.”

“Each boot comes with a mini-bar and room air conditioner.”


Economists say “flattening the curve” of the SDS contagion is essential if America is to avoid a deep recession that could decimate supply chains, bankrupt marginal businesses and causes household pets to break out in mange.  “We’re already seeing the impact on high-margin items of dubious utility,” says Bridget Adamley, a professor at the University of Massachusetts-Seekonk.  “Accessories that were previously available in seafoam, charcoal, taupe, dusty rose and teal now are only offered in black or white, take it or leave it.  I don’t know what I would tell a young girl who’s dreaming of a low-paid job with long hours–including weekends–in women’s ready-to-wear.”

“How did they know I still have money to spend?”


For the time being, however, shopping mavens such as Peggy Griggins and her friend Maeve Cleveland can only suffer while they await the results of the race to develop a vaccine that would put them out of their misery by Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and the busiest shopping day of the year.  “Not so much for me, I’ve had a full shopping life,” says Cleveland, who has unused availability on the six private label credit cards in her bulging wallet.  “It’s more for the children, who’ll go into an American Girls doll store someday and find the shelves empty.”

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