Shop Till Your Bubble Pops

This Times story on customers returning more merchandise to retailers (because of the bad economy) reads more like a story about shopper psychosis.

Nicolette Gonzalez, who calls herself an “addictive spender,” used to turn a blind eye to price, allocating three-quarters of her paycheck as a party planner in Manhattan to her wardrobe, she said. The economy has yet to dent her income, she said, “but I’m conscious of what I’m spending and more concerned with putting money away.”

Recently she returned a pair of $1,100 Golden Goose riding boots. “I’m getting my old ones resoled and repolished,” she said.

Some information is missing here. Does Gonzalez really spend 75 percent of her paycheck on clothes? If so, she must be otherwise subsidized. The Times should have been more skeptical.

More forgiving policies may be good news for Ms. Kakouris, the real estate agent in Miami. From time to time, pangs of conscience have caused her to regret a purchase before she has even stepped out of the store. “I’ll be on the escalator, and already I’m thinking, ‘I can’t do this,’ ” she said.

And here’s this:

Back to Banana Republic recently went the purple party dress that Ms. De Blank bought for a christening this fall. “I’ll make do with a black one that I already own,” she said. She confines her shopping these days mostly to department stores and large chains with liberal return policies. Small boutiques, which customarily offer store credits in lieu of cash refunds, are off limits, she said.

These anecdotes seem a little cartoonish to me.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.