The Surprising Shopping Habits of Women Around the World

We recently profiled the unusual engagement ring customs of women all over the world, which got us curious about how some of their other fashion habits might differ from ours in the US. And what fashion habit do women tend to engage in more than the rest? Well, shopping of course!

To find out how women in different corners of the world go about buying new stuff, I spoke to a handful of international ladies about some of the shopping trends they’ve witnessed. Though this is by no means a definitive guide—everyone’s different, after all—it certainly highlights that where you live can affect how you shop.

Scroll down to find out what they had to say!

“The return policy has changed slightly in the last few years but it used to be very difficult to return things, so you couldn’t make any mistakes or opt to try something on at home. Things are changing now thanks to stores like Zara and H&M, but a lot of women still try to just make the smartest purchases they can.

You can find more independent boutiques here, too, and we prefer to shop in them overall. In England, on the other hand, one high street resembles the next so you always see the same brands, but in France there’s more variety.” — Muriel, Paris

“In most Chinese cities like Hong Kong the stores will offer free alterations, which is really nice. And everyone basically just shops in malls because there are much fewer free standing stores here than you’d get in a city like New York. As a result shopping becomes much more of an ‘outing’ than a one-stop-shop kind of thing.” — Charlotte, Hong Kong

“Sweden only has big sales twice a year and everyone knows when they are, so people make a point to go shopping at those times. There is one in the winter and one in the summer, after Midsommar (the big holiday celebrating the longest day of the year).

Almost all of the young people will keep track of sample sales that pop up in the spring, as a result. The nice Swedish brands like J. Lindeberg, Hope, Whyred, etc. all have sample sales and market them on Facebook so a ton of people go! Shopping in general is just more planned out here.” Margot, Stockholm

“Women in Africa tend to shop in secondhand open-air markets, where massive amounts of clothing have been shipped over from the US and Europe. Everything is sold by weight, so it's a total crap shoot what's in your bag: you just pick at random, pay for the total weight, open it up, and sort through it.

There are no dressing rooms, so the sellers either look you up and down and tell you 'your size' or you try the clothes on over what you’re wearing. Some of the more upscale shopping involves people going to these markets, finding the best clothes, and then washing, ironing, and reselling them for more money.” — Jourdan, Bungoma

“European women often take way too many items to try on and then complain loudly when they are asked to put some aside. They will also complain if there is a queue and be pushy with people occupying the dressing rooms (Parisian women especially—and I am Parisian).

They also keep to themselves and most find it very rude to comment on what others are trying on (unlike in the U.S. where I notice people talk to strangers much more easily).” — Elinor, London

"There are a lot of very wealthy families in the Arab countries and they tend to be enamoured by luxury in all its forms. The wealthiest women rely on personal shoppers to complete their wardrobes, often sending them overseas to get the exact designer items they want." — Dina, Dubai

Get a little shopping done yourself with our editor-curated boutiques.

Do you have any different shopping habits or rules where you live? Let us know in the comments!