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Impulse Buying, Retail Therapy and Shopping Sprees

Impulsive shopping, retail therapy and shopping sprees - ever been guilty of these? These are three types of consumer buying habits that people find themselves doing as a way to temporarily relieve feelings of sadness, loneliness and stress.

Impulsive shopping

Ever bought an item without planning before- hand and without second guessing? Impulse buying can be characterised by a sudden strong urge to make a purchase, which you didn't budget for ahead of time. A huge example of this is buying clothes and shoes. It can also include, buying a packet of gum at checkout, "treat yourself" buys and extra food on a supermarket shop that you didn't write on your shopping list before or maybe there’s even a sales of cleaning products, so you buy extra than needed.

Retail therapy

Retail therapy can be defined as shopping with the primary purpose of improving the buyer's mood or disposition. The items bought are often referred to as “comfort buys". Many of you can probably relate to buying something nice for yourself after a stressful day at work or after an emotion conflict with a loved one. You may have used retail therapy to cope with this.

Shopping sprees

Shopping sprees can refer to the short period time when someone buys a lot of things. Reasoning for this can vary. Maybe you're influenced by your peers or social media influencers or it could be to counteract boredom. Shopping can feel satisfying because it gives us a distraction from daily life. It allows us to focus on one specific vision - tunnel vision.

Studies show that on average people spend $3,312 on impulse buys a year and $198,720 a year.

Two out of three impulse buys happen in a bed on a phone.

The three main reasons for compulsive consumer behaviour:

1. Our emotions, maybe we’re having a rough day.

2. Our past experiences as maybe you were never taught how to spend/save money properly.

3. When there’s a good deal in the store.

4. Maybe you’re just someone that enjoys shopping

All three spending habits involve spending money in hope that it will make you happier or temporarily lift your mood. Whether it's spending lots of money in one go, spending money on something unplanned or unexpected. There are various ways to reduce the amount of money you spend on these types of things. If you remove spending apps, such as Amazon, from your phone. You could make sure you stuck to a budget or leave money aside if you know you're likely to spend money in this way. The best way would be to speak support from friends or family when felling stressed rather than relying.

Why do we like to spend our money?

Shopping stimulates certain regions of the brain, giving us a short rush, something similar to happiness. It releases dopamine. There’s even a bigger sense of happiness and achievement when you find a really good deal. Understanding the connection between your brain and your bank can help you build up a healthy relationship with your money. We spend our money that we are influenced by others such as peers or tv adverts which will again release dopamine and give us this temporary feeling of happiness.

On the extreme side compulsive buying habits and behaviours can lead to lead to a shopping addition. This is a behavioural addition that involves compulsive buying, a way to feel good and avoid negative feelings, such as anxiety and depression. Shopping addiction, like other behavioural addictions, can become a wider concern that causes problems in other areas of your life. This is often referred to as Oniomania. There’s so many dimensions to this idea and why it can be seen as the most socially acceptable kind of addiction. We are even encouraged by the government to spend as way of boosting the economy. People who struggle with this type of addiction tend to spend more time and money on shopping than they can afford and as a result will get themselves into more financial problems. Studies show that items bought in compulsive spree are often unused, hoarded items or shoppers often feel empty and unsatisfied with their purchases when they get home. This contrasts to normal shopping where you shop for items that are needed and used, there is no sense of compulsion, doesn’t cause you any financial distress and most importantly you are allowed to have the occasional splurges.


Overall, we all maybe guilty of that occasional unplanned purchase on a couple of bags of sweets or chocolate at the checkout, or that time in the summer when we went on a shopping spree buying everything we needed for a new summer wardrobe.k or even unexpectedly buying that really pretty top in the sale. You just need to make sure that you budget for this and know that this is normal on the occasion.

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