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Home Why is retail therapy an effective way to produce positive effects on mood? The psychological benefits of retail therapy.

Why is retail therapy an effective way to produce positive effects on mood? The psychological benefits of retail therapy.


How much do Americans spend a year on retail therapy? Surveys about shopping purchases in the US reveal that one fifth of our shopping is accounted for in retail therapy. 

How common is retail therapy in the US? 

In addition, an average of $1652 a year is spent by American shoppers in order to make themselves feel good! This survey participated in by 2000 shoppers also revealed that about 65 hours a year is spent on online shopping and 90 hours a year on browsing through physical stores. That is huge! 

What is retail therapy and what leads us to do it? 

Cheering yourself up through purchasing items mainly to treat yourself is called retail therapy. 

Research has looked into what often leads to this behavior, and it is said that when we experience negative moods, the more prone we are to become impulsive in our shopping. There is a connection between impulsive buying and lack of control over behavior.  

However, there is also research that supports the idea of retail therapy as a positive coping mechanism when it is used as a reward. It teaches a person to develop their skill of restraining themselves from shopping for a while and waiting for the time when they buy an item for themselves at a later time. This leads to a good mood! 

The mental benefits of retail therapy

  • Retail therapy increases feelings of control. 

One of the reasons why we feel bad is our perceived lack of control over a life situation. Treating ourselves to something special, regardless of how much it is, brings back a sense of power. It decreases feelings of anxiety and brings satisfaction. 

  • Retail therapy gives feelings of happiness from items being viewed as a reward for doing a good job. 

Rewards release happy hormones in our brain. The release of these hormones even lasts longer after we have purchased an item! It means retail therapy’s effect on our mood lasts long. 

  • Unlike impulsive shopping, planning to buy something as a treat does not result in remorse or guilt. 

Many times, we find ourselves buying good things for those we love. When we buy something for ourselves, we feel the joy of taking care of ourselves! Instead of guilt, we feel energized to take care of ourselves more. 

When does retail therapy become harmful?

Uncontrolled impulses to shop become harmful, especially when our financial life and relationships are compromised. 

These are some signs that shopping has negative consequences: 

  • Feeling that our desire and behavior to shop cannot be controlled
  • Hiding what we buy from others as much as possible
  • Not being able to manage unpleasant emotions apart from shopping
  • The pleasant feelings brought by shopping is short-lived
  • Hiding how much money you have spent on shopping

Retail therapy done in moderation has mental benefits that bring positive changes to our mental wellbeing. But caution must be exercised so that it does not lead to addiction or long-term consequences to our financial health and relationships. 

If you see yourself having difficulty controlling your shopping impulses, you can seek help in the form of therapy so that you can receive support processing your emotions, and learning healthy coping techniques. 

Check out an extensive list of available mental health related careers and find the right job opportunity for you! 

Written by: Marsha Angelie Ang


  • https://nypost.com/2017/12/06/americans-spend-1652-per-year-on-retail-therapy/

Why is retail therapy an effective way to produce positive effects on mood? The psychological benefits of retail therapy.
Brandon Resasco