Retail Therapy-It Works

It's that time of the year where everyone is stressing.  The first thing me and many of the other ladies and even the guys are going to do after this hell of a final stretch is go shopping! Many people say "when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping" and that's absolutely true for some people.  Although retail therapy is a commonly used term, many people debate if it actually works.  I think that the excitement and happiness felt after shopping makes a person feel better.

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This study done in the US had several different parts.  The first took place at a US mall where about 200 people were interviewed on the way in and out of the mall.  Most people who came into the mall with a less happy mood left the mall on a brighter note.  What could have led to this change?  There are many contributing factors. 

For example, many people who are in bad moods just go shopping for a change.  They are fed up with things in the past and regrets.  So they decide to go to mall and buy something new.  Whether it's a new bedset, a new outfit, or a new pair of shoes the key thing to remember is that it is new. The new thing that is purchased ultimately is a symbol for change for the shopper.  It psychologically helps the shopper who is sad, angry, depressed about something in the past almost turn over a new leaf.  Along with this, visualization and imagining also helps the shopper.  When many people shop for items, whether they be clothes, video games, or even sports gear visualize themselves using these items.  So, perhaps someone is shopping for a new football.  While they're deciding what football to buy, paying for the football, and carrying the football in a bag back to their car they are envisioning themselves getting together with friends and tossing it around.  This visualization is pleasing to shopping and induces pleasurable thoughts.  

Another reason why retail therapy is very effective is because of imagination.  Unlike visualization, many people enjoy the art of shopping.  To many people this may seem silly, but to those who are true shoppers it is a subject they wish they were forced to take in school.  Some people purely enjoy the task of putting together outfits or picking out matching curtains and linens.  Shopping allows a person's mind to wander and get creative.  In addition, it's a very good distraction.  As long as the shopper has self-control, going to the mall or doing some online shopping can cause someone to temporarily be distracted.  Psychologist Zajong found that when someone is in a bad mood they tend to make facial expressions that can cause blood to rush to the brain and changes the temperature of the brain.  This is why when a bad mood, people have to physically cool down.  And what better way to do so other than buying some new things.  Being distracted by shopping won't make your problems go away, but it will give you time to relax and collect your thoughts so that you make decisions that will work in your favor in the future.

If you still don't believe that a little retail therapy can help fix any bad mood, check out this study. 69 undergraduate students were asked to keep diaries relevant to their consumption, mood, and after consumption feelings.  Opposed to the 28% who said that they purchased things as a celebration or reward, 62% said their shopping was due to a low mood and led to more positive feelings.


I am willing to admit I am one of the many that indulges in retail therapy when I am feeling stressed. Getting a new sweater or a soft pair of sweatpants for a steal is so addicting to me. It seems so funny how involved marketing is in sales. However, times are changing right in front of marketer's eyes (marketing major here, so interesting it hurts..). Did you know that people's time spent on apps is almost equal to the daily time spent watching television? Ninety two percent of retailers are also struggling with online/offline integration. Mobile phones have been the cause of 53% of shoppers not purchasing an item in a store.
Read more, it's very interesting.

Hi Anushi,

I agree with you, I am 100% a partaker of retail therapy!! Whenever I am feeling down, stressed, or upset about something I always want to go shopping. My mom is the exact same way. When I'm home, if my mom and I are both stressed out or sad about something, we always take a trip to either the mall, target or pier 1. I never really knew what it was about shopping that made us feel better, but even just walking around target and looking at things or walking through the mall and window shopping makes me a little happier. I know if my mom texts me and tells me that she's at pier 1 or target that I should probably call her and ask her what's wrong. A lot of times, if it is near a holiday, just the sight of the stores all decorated for the holiday and the holiday themed items make me excited! Also, if I do end up buying something, like a scarf or a new Essie nail polish or sweater, It makes me excited to go home and paint my nails or try a new outfit and when I look good, I feel good! I think that these are both big parts of why retail therapy works. Here is an article that further explains why retail therapy is good for you!

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