The Science of “Retail Therapy”

With the stress of work, school (and most recently a pandemic) can shopping help to reduce your stress levels? The answer may surprise you!

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We have always been told material goods won’t make us happy.  While that may be true, the act of purchasing them can have some seriously positive effects on your mental state.  A study published in the journal of psychology and marketing found that 62 percent of shoppers had a positive mood increase when they purchased something to cheer them up.  While the word “therapy” is not something we generally associate with shopping, how else can we explain the popularity of shopping?

According to a study in the Journal of Consumer Psychology retail therapy not only has the potential to cause an immediate boost in happiness, but it can actually fight lingering sadness or stress.  In the study it was noted that people who felt they lacked control of their environment felt that shopping was a logical coping method due to the fact that they were able to control their purchase. 

As shopping has increasingly shifted to online shopping scientists have begun to look at the effects of a person’s mental state when shopping online.  The question presented to social scientists was if online shopping produces the same “therapy” as shopping in brick and mortar stores.  A study that conducted consumer interviews found that many people referred to online shopping as a type of mini-mental vacation.  The study also found that when faced with a tough decision or long and difficult task short breaks can actually improve work performance and improve decision making.

While shopping should not be your only method of coping with stress, it is a good one.  Like all stress reduction therapies be sure not to overdo it and practice retail therapy in moderation.  Excessive online shopping can lead to an actual addition called Buying Shopping Disorder or BSD.   So don’t spend your entire paycheck on Amazon each week, but a few non-essential purchases can lead to a great boost in happiness.

During the COVID-19 pandemic it is easy to fall prey to overdoing it with online shopping.  Most of the country (and the world) is currently stuck inside for over a month now.  It is very easy to rationalize excessive online purchases as things you really “need”.

One great way to ensure you don’t overspend on online shopping is using coupons.  Most of us have heard of online coupon sites such as Honey and Retail Me Not.  However, there is a whole network of websites devoted to providing high value Amazon discount coupons.  Some of these websites are Buy At A Discount, Vipon and Snagshout.  These websites offer high value Amazon discount coupons ranging from 20% – 90% off items.

Online coupons give you a unique opportunity to engage in retail therapy without overspending.  Searching these sites is also a great way to kill some time while you are stuck at home during this pandemic.  While there has not been a study done yet regarding online coupon use and retail therapy, it is a safe bet to assume this would eliminate some of the possible negatives.  It is still not recommended to go on an all out shopping spree on Amazon even with coupons.  However, these Amazon discount coupons give you the opportunity to buy products at a much lower price.  Thus allowing you to engage in is some healthy retail therapy without worrying about an exorbitant credit card bill.

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