Sarah Sands: Changing-room rage averted by shoppers' serenity

Share
Related Topics

There are a few things from which celebrity cannot protect you. They include parking tickets and taking a restricted number of garments into shop changing rooms. Zara Phillips does not need to shoplift, but then neither do many shoplifters. Last week she was stopped from carrying too many Superdry items into a changing room. I don't quite understand why she needed to try anything on, since the only point is the name of the brand and, in the end, a T-shirt is just a T-shirt.

If you want to see what the complete breakdown of society looks like, visit a store's changing room at the end of the day. You could start with Bicester Village. Shop assistants are on all fours trying to make sense of the clothes mountains. I have worked, in the past, in the swimwear department of Harvey Nichols during the Christmas sales.

Perhaps the algorithms genius who has worked out how to speed up boarding on a plane could turn his mind to hustling clients through the changing rooms while working out if a bikini counts as one item or two, and later if it has been returned with its modesty strip in the vaginal area still intact.

The four or five items (on average) you are permitted to take in sound reasonable, but remember women are likely to want to try at least two sizes of each item. In the case of bikinis, they will then mix and match, say, a size 12 top with a size 14 bottom. All this has to be calculated in sauna-like conditions made more cloying by the clashing perfumes and antiperspirants.

There is the further issue of how many people you allow in with the clothes. Few women shop alone: there will be a mother or a best friend or, in the case of Bicester, a coach load of fellow Chinese students, wanting the sizes recalibrated in various time zones plus VAT exclusion forms.

It is like being a waitress with covers. There is a reason changing-room assistants knock on the door and call out "How is it?" knowing the customer is still fighting to pull the zip up past first base. All the profit is in the fast turnover. Also, once you have established personal contact, it is harder for a customer to wriggle away without buying anything. In New York, the assistants say their names slowly and clearly – "I'm SARAH" – so leaving empty handed becomes a personal betrayal.

The number system can exhaust shoppers into submission. If you are on your 10th item, it is tempting to buy it rather than return the last four ("How was it?") and join the queue all over again. I am surprised how little changing-room rage one witnesses, considering that the place resembles an airport departure lounge on a summer bank holiday – in fact, an airport departure lounge on a summer bank holiday where there has been a spontaneous walkout by baggage handlers and flights have been halted by a terrorist alert.

Last weekend, in New York, I watched a teenager and her friend try on two T-shirts and two pairs of mini-shorts. They then queued to buy one of the T- shirts and left victorious with their bag.

Ten minutes later, they returned the item, found to be damaged. Then back to the changing room to try on a replacement one. The process took just under an hour, but they were perfectly jaunty. I, meanwhile, was in a coma of boredom outside the changing room, waiting for my daughter. She would not be hurried. She understood Plato's wisdom that a good decision is based on knowledge and not numbers.





React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Data Warehouse & Business Intelligence Co-ordinator

£35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Required skills include SQL querying, SSRS, u...

Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, PHP, HTML, JavaScript, CSS

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, HTML...

Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst- Insurance

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst - Insurance ...

Recruitment Genius: Property Manager

£25000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent, growing Sales...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: The demise of a Sixties monster

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
A CCTV camera is seen in front of a large poster opposite in central London  

Home Office is creating more powers to turn everyone into suspects – but leave us no safer

Shami Chakrabarti
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?