The Truth About Retail Therapy

The majority of what we buy at the shops is everyday items that we need to live on. For instance, we buy bread and milk to eat, tooth brushes and tooth paste to keep our teeth clean and clothing to keep our body warm and protected from the weather.

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However, there is another type of shopping called retail therapy. Retail therapy is when you buy something with the primary purpose to improve your mood. Often seen in people during periods of depression or transition, retail therapy is normally a short-lived habit. Items purchased during periods of retail therapy are sometimes referred to as “comfort buys”.

The term “retail therapy” was first used in the 1980’s with the first reference beginning with this sentence in the Chicago Tribune of Christmas Eve 1986: “We’ve become a nation measuring out our lives in shopping bags and nursing our psychic ills through retail therapy.”

In 2001, a studied conducted by the European Union found that 33% of shoppers surveyed had “high level of addiction to rash or unnecessary consumption”. This was causing debt problems for many. The same study went on to reveal that young Scottish people has the highest susceptibility to binge purchasing.

A group of psychologists decided to test this theory by doing some new research on a person when shopping. The team asked shoppers to keep a diary of their buying habits, moods and any purchases that they regretted.

The study found that shoppers that were in a bad mood on their way into the shop were more likely to indulge in an impulse buy. A total of 62% said that they had bought something to cheer themselves up, while 28% of the test group said they had indulged as a form of celebration.

The study published in the Journal of Psychology and Marketing in the U.S., concluded that retail therapy purchases were overwhelmingly beneficial, leading to mood boosts and no regrets or feeling of guilt. The authors of the study stated that retailers could learn from these findings.

They stated that it is not a suggestion that ever retailer should suddenly make a small treat item available at checkout points to tempt the customers, or that mall planners need to strategically locate candy stores near every exit. Retailers should instead encourage customers by suggesting that clients have the ‘right’ to splurge on unnecessary items. By creating a positive feeling towards this treat, it allows the customer to feel better.

A study in the USA shows that 51.8% of Americans engage in retail therapy, with 64% of women confessing to clothing being their retail therapy and 40% of men stating that they turn towards food as their comfort buys.

So what triggers retail therapy? The most common trigger is to cure a bad mood after a hard day at work (18.9 percent), followed by 14.6 percent who say they console themselves with retail after receiving bad news, and 12.2 percent of people blame fighting with their partner.

Retail therapy is not a myth, it is a real issue and more and more people are falling into the trap of needing comfort buys to improve their mood after a rough day at the office, a fight with a partner or receiving bad news. Interesting, a study revealed that while women tend to engage in retail therapy more often, men tended to make larger retail purchases.

I am Greg Jones, a statistics lover and gym nut. I love reading on personal loans South Africa and Global statistics, as this gives you great insight into how people live around the world and how retail therapy has an effect on all nations and all economic classes in these countries.

The Truth About Retail Therapy

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