The Actual Benefits of Retail Therapy



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Though most of us engage in retail therapy once in a while, it is a phenomenon often ridiculed by the masses, a way of getting people to buy more stuff so to speak. Deep down, I always knew that there was more to it than that, so I decided to look into it and see whether there are any actual shopping benefits other than pure pleasure.

“If it’s a phenomenon, someone will have researched it”, I said to myself and it didn’t take me long to come across a study carried out by TNS Global. They had been asked by Ebates to determine the actual benefits of retail therapy, and the results may surprise you as much as they just confirmed what I knew all along.

What Shopping Can Do For You

Of those surveyed, 62% admitted that they had bought something to make themselves feel better and 28% had purchased a celebratory gift for themselves. Thinking back on all of my purchases, I have done both and would always feel that it did me the world of good.

Returning to the survey, the following benefits became quite obvious:

  • The Power of Visualization: Shopping can be a great way of planning a new life, be it preparing for married life, parenthood, life after divorce or indeed the start of a new job. Visualization is a well-known anxiety buster and by making purchases in preparation for a new chapter in our lives, we help our hearts and minds to make the transition more easily. It makes sense then to see how couples joyfully buy furniture for their first joint home, expecting parents go mad buying baby stuff and both men and women buy themselves a new wardrobe before starting a new job.
  • Suits for Success: The study also showed that formal clothing increases people’s confidence, and it is now more understandable, why professional dress code is so important.
  • The Joys of Beauty and Creativity: Many people are also said to be greatly inspired by beautiful products and the appreciation thereof. I remember many occasions of spotting products and returning home to give a similar product a makeover. I also have to say that a stunning piece of jewelry or clothing, gorgeous painting or vase will always cheer me up, simply because they are so utterly visually appealing.
  • Rewards and Treats: Though not covered in the survey, personally, I also believe in the value of shopping when it comes to rewarding myself or indeed making me feel better. If I have worked hard, I do not see any reason why I shouldn’t reward myself with a purchase. By the same token, many an item has made me feel better on a dreary Monday morning!

As Long as You are Not Running Away From Your Problems…

There was always going to be a downside to retail therapy, I was well aware of that. Psychologists warn that one should not shop to avoid pain or delay facing up to personal issues. Much like other destructive escapist activities such as overconsumption of food or alcohol, shopping should never be allowed to represent an unhealthy crutch or used to mask real problems.

The Pure Joy of Shopping

To me, shopping is pure pleasure, though I do make an effort not to overspend. On the few occasions that I did push the boat out a little too far, I regretted it pretty much instantly and the joy vanished from the purchase at once. Shopping is therapy as long as you stick within the parameters of your budget and common sense. Enjoy it, but don’t lose the run of yourself.

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