M.M’s Guide to the Lesser Spotted Serial Shopper.

If you are a longterm follower of this blog, you will know that MM is as enthusiastic about shopping as Lindsay Lohan would be about running a tea shop. In order of preference, I would rather rip my toe nails out with a pair of pliers, spend an evening babysitting for Godzilla’s offspring or clean the family car with my tooth brush than set foot in a shopping centre at the height of the summer sales. Why? Because I’m allergic to the LSSS: the Lesser Spotted Serial Shopper. She brings me out in spots.


MM emerging from the underground car park and seeing the sales crowd. Note full head and eye protection for a day at the sales (Photo credit: x-ray delta one).

But last weekend, Little My had other plans. She was adamant about her perfect birthday agenda: a day spending her birthday money at the summer sales. With Mummy. So there I was, standing on an escalator that smoothly and irreverently spat me into the throbbing, frantic world of shopaholics. A beaming and febrile twelve year old clutched at me with one hand whilst the other quivered with anticipation over her pocket, ready to unsheathe her wallet and shoot ready cash at the first sight of a bargain.

Her chosen hunting ground was the place I call “the empty parrot cage” – a shopping centre called the “Polygone”. It was the third day of the summer sales, though, and the parrot cage was anything but empty. The air was rife with raw instinct – I swore I could smell it. The serial shopper season was in full swing, and they were hunting in packs, cackling loudly. They swooped past us, multicolored plastic bags dangling from the grasps of their French-manicured claws. Some were perched in lines on benches, pecking at bags of crisps and sipping Diet Coke as they gloated over their pickings (imagine the vultures in the Jungle Book, but more sinister).

Vulture / Buitre

An ageing Solitary Serial Shopper, all made up and ready to nab that size ten from her unsuspecting victim. (Photo credit: . SantiMB .)

How to recognize the LSSS.

The lesser spotted serial shopper looks fragile and dainty, but believe me, kiddo: those dainty little summer dresses hide ruthless machines that have trained to perfection for the Great Battle of the Credit Card. Move over, Lara Croft: these commercial commandos have prepared their offensive with military precision, and taken photos of their goals during strategically planned early morning reconnaissance flights. In the same way that the US Army polish up their weapons, the Lesser Spotted Serial Shopper has sharpened her nails with her titanium emery board in preparation for the big day. I suspect that they go to special commercial commando camps, where they hang bat-like from the rafters dressed in pink lycra and do sit-ups in time to “the Eye of the Tiger“, sweat dripping off their elbows as a hairy-chested hybrid of Mr T and Madonna barks instructions at them and points at the photos of dresses blu-tacked to the ceiling.

Modus operandi.

You don’t hear her sneaking up from behind the lingerie display until it’s too late. Her strategy is simple: as your fingers lovingly caress the article you are planning on buying, she will slide between you and it, staring at you with wide, mascara-ed eyes as she breathes “excusez-moi…” in your face. You step backwards, realizing that you have the choice between that or getting a stiletto heel-shaped hole in your big toe. She disappears in a puff of Dior, your vestimentary dream jammed firmly under her armpit. You live and learn. Another well-known strategy to is save valuable time by trying on clothing in the queue for the till and leaving a trail of unwanted items along the way, à la Hansel and Gretel. Any neighbouring woman who blinks in surprise at getting a face full of Serial Shopper’s g-string as she tries on a pair of mini-shorts is rebuked with a hostile glare that could reduce the average human being to a pile of poop, whilst a shy but sexy smirk is reserved for male onlookers.

English: Boxes of Nooma puddings being unloaded.

A Happily Married Serial Shopper supervising her cargo of sales bargains. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Solitary predators hunt alone – these are the most dangerous variety. The misleadingly feminine and delicately perfumed exterior of the Solitary Lesser Spotted Serial Shopper hides the terrifying predator that lies within. These experienced birds have an eagle eye for a bargain, and will not hesitate to elbow less streetwise shoppers in the ribs, stick the corners of their handbags in children’s faces and reduce any inappropriately sandal-clad toes to smithereens in their quest to make it to the last size ten dress before anyone else.

Happily Married comes with her personal bodyguard/bag carrier/fund provider – a commercially depressed, metrosexual other half whose haggard expression induces pity in the most hard-hearted of people. She parks him on a chair outside the cubicle, where he avoids eye contact with the other women. When the LSSS finally extracts herself from the pile of clothing she has shoe-horned into the cubicle with her and twirls in front of the mirror, he fields the question “What do you think?” with caution: he knows that his opinion does not actually have any weight in her decision making, and any suggestion that the shirt is too short or the cleavage too deep will be greeted with flared nostrils and a glare. He is there simply to guard her trophies and go to find a different size or colour if needed.

The queue for the changing rooms is generally three miles long, and usually includes gaggles of Trainee Serial Shoppers. These are the young beginners who no doubt still use their Dolce & Gabbana belt buckles to differentiate between their “droite” and their “gauche”. They remain in a gaggle around the curtain, chewing gum and typing messages to each other on their phones (it’s not cool to talk to each other directly at that age) as they await the appearance of The Friend wearing the bargain of the century. According to the latter’s status in the group, comments will then vary from “Waaaah, so sexxxxxxy!” to “Uh. Yeah. I think it makes your bum look big. Nah, I mean, bigger.

DolceAndGabbana belt fake

Wear a Dolce and Gabbana belt, and instantly have the means to tell your left hand from your right (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“And what about the shopper with a girlfriend?” you ask. Well, I’m going to make myself unpopular here, but if she absolutely has to break the solitary rule of serial shopping, the LSSS never goes to the sales with a friend who wears the same size as her. She firmly believes that if she is the Queen Mary, her long-suffering pal is her tug. Only a friend who wears at least two sizes bigger are accepted to carry her bags and approve of her choices. However, said friend should have skin as thick as whale blubber and not expect the same favours in return.

I’ll leave you with this advert from the German internet clothing company Jungstil. It sums up my fears about the Lesser Spotted Sales Shopper perfectly. Be good at the sales. And if you can’t be good, be careful. Very careful. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to hang off the rafters.

PS. My apologies for the resounding silence since my last post. Life has been throwing all kinds of challenges MM’s way of late, meaning that she lost much of her blogging muchness. My mum always told me that if you have nothing nice to say, it’s best to keep your trap shut – hence the period of silence on this blog. 


42 thoughts on “M.M’s Guide to the Lesser Spotted Serial Shopper.

  1. It’s good to see you back missus 🙂

    I can’t stand sales shopping or shopping in general, for that matter.

    I much prefer to do any kind of shopping from the luxury of my home, coffee in hand, tapping keys. Hell, I’ve purchased an entire outfit including accessories whilst writing this comment 😉 xx

  2. OKAY. I love to shop but with yo=yo weight and not working my spending is calculated. To get my ” fix” I frequent the second hand shops looking for tiny antique trinkets made of wood. This said.

    THAT VIDEO IS ABOUT THE FUNNIEST THING I HAVE SEEN IN MONTHS. I laughed until I cried. Thank you, you do not know it but your timing was impeccable.

    • I’m very, very happy I made you laugh so much. The unexpected is often what saves us from predicaments 😉 I’m beginning to think we should sat art a second hand shopper club – there seem to be a good few of us! Not working? Hope you are ok (if I’m being too nosy, just ignore me).

      • You are never too nosy, we all share a part of our lives willingly with some choice people. I am trying to relocate to the NL, looking for work there and just barely survived an extremely stressful family event so your post was just honestly perfect timing, I laughed until I cried 🙂
        Maybe I just needed to cry 🙂 but I loved it MrsC.

      • I’ve been down that family road recently, sending you big hugs. The advantage of rock bottom is that from there onwards, the only way is up… (baby, for you and me now… la la la…)

  3. You nailed it MM! But I fear I saw myself as the LSSS – more specifically the Solitary Predator. I do LOVE to shop!
    … but I would never stomp on your toes … not intentional anyway 😉

  4. And you’re back. Great post. I loved the name you have for the shopping centre. I found it hard to get past that as it really made me laugh.
    I hope all is beginning to settle for you. If all else fails I suggest a private post.

    • Hiya Tric! I’m glad it put a smile on your face. Things are still very much up in the air here for the moment – life’s a bit of a roller coaster. Bigfoot’s just got his baccalauréat and a place at Uni. Pass the Kleenex.

    • Thanks, Helen. I’m dying for life to get back to normal, so blogging has to come back into my daily routine. I haven’t had much time recently and I have a feeling that it isn’t going to get much easier for a while yet.
      Thought of you when Costa Rica played footie the other night – I was almost hoping to see your motley team of neighbors turn up on the turf with a dog and a lamb, but no such luck.

    • What, you never go to the sales? Some men actually enjoy it. But I think they are rare. Bigfoot went with his girlfriend, and I actually found him looking for a dress she hadn’t seen in her size on Internet a couple of day ago. Now if that’s not love, I don’t know what is…

  5. Love the Empty Parrot Cage!! ( My daughter & l often go to The Leopard Skin Café – renamed by us of course – much more exotic than The French Coffee Shop!!) I used to quite like sale shopping back in the day …not sure if it’s old age or this part of France but it has since lost its appeal. Gone are the days when I could spot a bargain worth fighting for…..here the sales are full of stuff dragged out from 3 Christmasses ago or the more recent things have miniscule amounts of euros off. Not much in the way of frenzied atmosphere either or any of the wonderful species you so eloquently describe which at least would offer a degree of people watching 😉 Nope, second hand shops get my vote too…not that there are many of those here either…sigh…

    • The leopard skin café? Hmmm. Cougar hangout? What are YOU doing there, young lady? 😀 I feel your pain about the prices and the quality – Little My kept muttering “too expensive, I thought this was the sales”, and putting stuff back. The kid drives a hard bargain.

  6. MM! There’s been a void on my desktop without you this summer. I’m with you on shopping; that video was brutal, but grocery shopping here during Ramadan can be almost as bad … goodness forbid you find yourself reaching for that last bag of flour. So happy to have you back. Hugs. X

    • Miss Gypsy, I’ve been sad without my blogging. It’s a long story, but for the last three months life has been rotating around a very unwell, confused and sad mummy in law. I think that we’re out of the woods now, but there’s still a long way to go. So your welcome back and the lovely hugs do me the world of good. Now don’t go and get yourself beaten up for that bag of flour, girl. I’ve had my fill of hospitals.

  7. I don’t like the parrot cage either, avoid it like the plague if I can, and I never shop for women’s clothes in the sales! Not in a physical shop, anyway. Most of my clothes come from Pierrette, my ‘personal’ shopper. I go to her house and try on all the clothes she’s got from various sources (she’s a beautician by trade). 🙂

    That video was hilarious!

    • It’s a scary place, isn’t it? And it has a twin sister in Béziers!
      You have a personal shopper? Wowsers. That sounds very royal family. Does she do a Christine “whats-her-face” “re-looking” on you and call you “daaaaarling”? (I love that expression. “re-looking”).

      • LOL, no, she’s forever trying to get me into size 6 jeans and then tutting that I’ve put on weight as I give up trying to get them over my knees. 🙂
        It sounds more glamorous than it is, but she has found me some nice mostly second-hand, little-worn clothes over the years, for very decent prices – jeans 15-20 Eur, tops 5-10 Eur, dresses 10-15 Eur. 🙂

  8. My first visit and a hearty reminder of how much I hate going shopping. I think I used to like it, but back then, I was young. Stupid. And I had money to spend. For everything else, there’s the Internet!

    • Hello, Marilyn, and welcome to the blog! (MM bunny hops around the kitchen with joy – I love it when a new visitor knocks on my virtual door.) I think we should start up a club for shopping survivors. We could meet at the bottom of my garden – bring your best anecdote, a bottle of wine and two straws.

  9. Goodness! That ad is shocking. The idea of shopping for clothes online fills me with images of potato sacks or bursting seams. I haven’t been in this true sale madness either. An interesting anthropological outing, it seems.

    • Hiya, Miss Cuttlefish! Hope you’re well – I will be round to check out your adventures soon. Life has been hectic here.
      I hate shopping for new clothes, whether in shops or online. Second hand shopping is the way to go 🙂

  10. Welcome back, MM. A new post from you gladdens the heart whenever it appears.

    Ah, les soldes. I’ve heard about them, but here in la France profonde they are very muted and I try to avoid them in any case, not having a smidgen of Serial Shopper in my makeup. I think the last sales I went to were the Boxing Day sales in about 1979. 🙂 But I loved this post and realise how much I’ve missed your take on the world. Hope things ease off for you soon.

    • You too? We should start a club. I’m hoping I’ll get back to my usual speed soon. Life is still unpredictable for me, but things should be ironing themselves out soon. Cross everything you have two of, please. Only the bits that don’t hurt too much 😉

  11. Yay, very happy to have you back! Hope all is ok and things are settling down for you. Love the advert, very funny. I’m with you – can’t beat second hand (or Vintage if you want it to sound better!) I’m back in England for a few weeks and I’ve already hit the charity shops and a car boot sale for plenty of bargains 🙂

    • Cheers, BW – I’m happy too 🙂 Things are still being taken one day at a time, and I’m hoping for life to be smoother from September onwards. Fingers crossed.
      Back in England? Lucky girl. Get yourself some midget gems and some black Jacks, I’m very jealous about the charity shops and the car boot sale.

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