13

You are walking around in a shopping mall or some sort of store, even though you might buy something, you don't have anything specific in mind and you are walking around the store, to have a look.

If a salesman or a saleswoman asks you if they can help you with something, how do you explain to her the whole situation — that you don't have an idea what you want, you will buy something if you like it, but you don't know what it is, and you have to walk through the entire store to see if you want anything or not?

You can of course say "no", but it will be kind of rude.

  • 1
    I don't think you have to explain. In the situation you describe, I'd say "No, thank you." – snailcar Feb 3 '13 at 14:13
16

The phrase "I'm just looking" would not be considered rude, and I think it's a rather common way of saying it in shopping malls and department stores.

There's also the term window shopping, which means "looking at shop windows without intending to purchase anything." That term is not merely restricted to passersby of store windows, however; people will sometimes use that expression when they checking out the merchandise in the aisles of the store.

That said, I'd be more inclined to tell a sales clerk "I'm just looking," before I'd say "I'm only window shopping."

  • 5
    I would add to this that 'I'm just browsing' is also a completely acceptable response in the context of shopping, which doesn't have the connotation of 'I'm not going to buy anything' but more along this lines of 'I might buy something, but I don't know what yet.' – MikeTheLiar Feb 3 '13 at 17:59
  • 3
    "Just looking" has always been a favourite answer of mine when in shops, and I never once got a negative reaction on the part of the salespeople, so I consider it perfectly safe to use. And "Thank you" to go with it might do the trick even better. – Paola Feb 3 '13 at 23:05
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    "Window shopping" has the connotation that the person does not intend to actually buy something, whereas "Just looking" suggests that a purchase might be made. Consequently "Just looking" is a preferable phrase to say to a shopkeeper. If you say "I'm window shopping" they may ask you to leave. – Matt Feb 5 '13 at 21:16
  • @Matt: That's perhaps one reason I'd be inclined to use "I'm just looking" as well, although I wouldn't go so far as to say that I'd never say "window shopping." If I was in a jovial mood, and the store wasn't too fancy (that is, if it didn't look like a place that would tell me to leave just because I wanted to look around). That said, younger clientele, who some shopkeepers might fear are shoplifters or troublemakers, might have much less luck with the "window shopping" phrase than, say, a professionally dressed businesswoman. – J.R. Feb 5 '13 at 22:24
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    @Matt Unless you're in a window store. – JAB Apr 11 '17 at 18:00
8

Well, usually when I'm in the situation you mentioned above, I say,
"I'm just having a look" or "I'm just looking around"

And so as to not be rude, I usually add a "Thank you" at the end.

This is usually enough and there doesn't seem to be one word or a short form for this, or if there is, I have never used it.
On the other hand, I have never encountered a problem in this kind of situation either.
As they say:

If it isn't broke, don't fix it.

4

In North America, a standard reply would be, "I'm just browsing, thank you."

2

You could say a few things like:
1. I'm just looking at your products.
2. I'm just looking around.
3. I'm just seeing if there's anything I need.

Also like Siddhartha said "I usually add a "Thank you" at the end.", Which is a good way of making sure they understand you don't mean any harm.

  • All of these options are good, but I'll note that, in the U.S., using the word products in that context might sound a little stilted. I'd expect to hear merchandise (or, more informally, "I'm just looking at your stuff"), or maybe "I'm just looking at what you have". – J.R. Feb 3 '13 at 19:35
1

"I'm just looking" is universally understood by all salespersons that you do not need any help and would prefer them not to bother you as you are shopping. You can certainly say, "No thank you, I'm not looking for anything in particular (or anything specific)."

:-)

  • I agree but it's more acceptable to add a "thanks", e.g. "No, I'm just looking, thanks." or even just "Just looking, thanks." – starsplusplus Jul 4 '14 at 23:48
0

My father says "Just pokin' around"

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