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Are you a shopaholic? Or do you just dabble in Ret...

Are you a shopaholic? Or do you just dabble in Retail Therapy?

Photo on 12-10-12 at 10.19 AMToday’s topic is #2 on our “bad habit” list in the Behavior Exchange Challenge.  Retail Therapy!  How many of us can say buying something new and shiny really perks us up.  The problem with Retail Therapy isn’t in buying yourself a little something to chase away the blues, the problem is when it becomes obsessive behavior….just like an addiction to drugs, alcohol or even cigarettes.

When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping….He who dies with the most toys wins.  Sound familiar?

Carolyn Gregorie of The Huffington Post writes…

1 in 3 Americans shop to deal with anxiety.  Is this Retail Therapy or a shopping addiction?

Forget meditation and yoga: For many stressed-out Americans, the best remedy for a stressful day at work or the sting of a painful breakup is the smell of brand-new clothing, the feel of a silk dress and the sound of a credit card being swiped. If you turn to retail therapy in times of anxiety, you’re not alone — according to a recent survey, nearly one in three recently stressed Americans (which accounts for 91 percentof the general population) shops to deal with stress.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the survey — an online poll of over 1,000 U.S. adults commissioned by the Huffington Post — found that women were twice as likely as men to use retail therapy as a way to cope with stress (40 percent vs. 19 percent). And in turn, men were more than twice as likely as women (34 percent vs. 16 percent) to say that they had never shopped out of stress and would never consider doing so in the future.

But gender aside, there is one trait many “stress-shoppers” have in common: They tend to seek distracting, temporary fixes to alleviate their stress. HuffPost’s survey found that those who shop to deal with anxiety (versus those who do not) were also…

  • 46 percent more likely to exercise to cope with stress
  • 86 percent more likely to eat to cope with stress
  • 76 percent more likely to worry about their weight

(Read the entire article here)

Psychology Today’s Article; A Field Guide To The Shopaholic talks about the difference between Retail Therapy and Shopaholics.

True shopaholics develop retail habits that put other areas of their lives in peril, explains psychologist April Lane Benson, Ph.D., author of To Buy or Not to Buy. “They’re put on probation at work because they’re caught shopping online, or they’re working two or three jobs to pay off their credit cards,” she says. “Their personal lives are in a shambles because of the secrecy and the humiliation.” Their relationships may also suffer, as shopaholics often get into spats with loved ones about their spending sprees.

The group of people referred to as the Retail Therapy shoppers…

This group loves retail therapy—going on spending sprees directly to alleviate bad feelings. “Shopping brings me out of a depressed mood,” says Dee Burrell, an author and professional consultant from Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, who considers herself an emotional shopaholic.

Any way you look at it, it’s clear this is one of the habits that truly happy people don’t engage in.  What do you think?  Are you a shopaholic?  Are you as happy as you could be?



  1. Sue Shoemaker

    3 July

    When one lives over an hour away from a shopping mall…the time spent driving in the car getting there and back gives one plenty of “time for reflection.” For me, shopping has always been a required commitment to acquire necessities, and not really an activity I have “enjoyed.”

    • Barbara Coleman

      3 July

      I hear you! I have moved my credit card away from the computer and no longer store my card number….amazon, you 1 click addiction!

  2. Have you ever read my blog? I am a proud shopaholic. I love to shop, bargains, thrift stores, Chanel, Hermes, it’s all fun and all therapeutic. How could loving beautiful things be bad for you?

    • Barbara Coleman

      3 July

      I love beautiful things! I just love being debt free and having money in the bank more. I’ve learned at this stage in my life that I can love and enjoy things and not have to own them. Except for Apple products of course, I’m not a shopaholic but I am addicted to all things Apple.

      • All true (on a mac myself) but I have always had restraint; I’m just lucky that way. I can find joy spending $10 for a treasure at a thrift store or even the dollar store; and the Chanel things are always with a buy-in (haha) from hubs. He likes new surfboards and we discuss all expensive purchases. I don’t think I could enjoy them as much if he didn’t want me to have them. We’re a team.

        • Barbara Coleman

          3 July

          Sounds like you have a very healthy habit then. Really, the shopaholics or retail therapists are only in danger when it affects other parts of their life. Too much debt, buying so much they’d almost fall into the hoarder category or family & friends concerned because they’d rather be shopping….those are the bad habits that happy people do not hold. You have found a way to keep your love of shopping at a level that doesn’t adversely affect your life. Strong Work!

  3. Ginger Kay

    3 July

    This was interesting. I enjoy thrift shopping for the thrill of the hunt, but I’m not a big shopper. I’m more likely to “shop” for my pinterest boards than to buy things online. De-cluttering is more of a stress reliever than accumulating stuff for me. (I consider myself a very happy person.)

    • Barbara Coleman

      3 July

      I’m the same way, Ginger….clutter makes me crazy (and unhappy). And I use Pinterest for the same reason…. I’m so glad the days of peer pressure and thinking I needed something just because somebody else has it are long gone! The drummer in my head is all mine!

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