Aurora Magazine

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Shop and mob

Published in Jan-Feb 2016

Sales are no longer just sales. They are valuable insights into mob behaviour, especially when it comes to prêt.

Imagine life in heaven would be about never having to work a single day. Instead one could loll about in bed all day, comparing, checking and refreshing websites posting all those great deals out there and then clicking and adding your selected goodie into a virtual shopping cart and then waiting eagerly for the rider to arrive at your doorstep. Well shopping nirvana in Pakistan is coming even closer as the internet explodes with entrepreneurs of every ilk, selling everything from your favourite high street prêt store to real honey made in a remote village. And all vying for a share of that fast diminishing wad of cash you still call your own.

It is all so tempting and the onslaught is relentless. There are even emails announcing special prices on geysers. One look at the price and you start to wonder whether your current one is taking too long to heat the water. As you consider this, your smartphone (you also bought that online) buzzes with yet more retail ‘news’. All inviting instant gratification. A midseason sale at Monsoon (yayyy! you can finally afford it!), a hyper discount on pizzas (yum) and 20% off on every meal at Okra if you use the Platinum card your bank sent you without checking to see if you wanted one in the first place. Lunch there, midweek perhaps?

I have forgotten the last time I received a ‘real’ text message from anyone. Friends have migrated to Whatsapp, as texts are relegated to announcing enticing deals, many of which can now be delivered right to your doorstep. Even on Whatsapp, commercialism is creeping as small time entrepreneurs add you to shopping groups. Indeed, the only time you should consider showering (remember this is nirvana and you don’t work) and heading to the mall would be when you are overcome by the urge to post photos of yourself at Gloria Jeans on social media – and I am sure someone somewhere is working on the app that will let you do just that – without your ever needing to move from under your duvet.

And then to the mall it is only if you want to engage in a Black Friday sale brawl and gain some notoriety.

Read: The Curious Case of Black Friday in Pakistan.

Sale. That one word can make wrestling with a crowd (and risk being trampled on by a stampede for the sake of a kurta) seem worthwhile. Yup sales are no longer just sales. They are valuable insights into mob behaviour, especially when it comes to prêt.

As you extricate yourself from the mobs and walk out (alive!) with your purchases, you may begin to wonder if you shopped too much. Did mob frenzy make you buy clothes at half price, but in the wrong size? If so, you can head to Espresso (because you get 20% off on your card only today) and indulge in some post purchase dissonance as you contemplate the damage to your bank account.  

Smart entrepreneurial types have discovered that there is a solution to every problem that exists. Because now you can take your bad buys and post them on online shopping groups. So it is back to bed with your precious, precious phone.

Shahrezad Samiuddin is a pop culture junkie and a scriptwriter.