Shopping Therapy

Shopping trips should not be confused with “buying” trips. Many times shopping is therapeutic and has nothing to do with the act of purchasing goods.

There are many popular quotes which illustrate attitudes toward shopping. “Shop till you drop.” “When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.” “Shopping is cheaper than a psychiatrist.” Behind all of these sayings is the implication that shopping is frivolous activity.

For some, however, shopping is a very serious business. Admitted shopaholics will tell you, shopping serves many purposes. Some shop to apease their addiction, to relieve stress, to distract themselves when they are anxious, to alleviate boredom, or simply to shake off the blues.

Shopping is a woman’s sport. Most men are bored by the exercise of roaming from store to store searching out sales. For women, successful bargain hunting is an achievement and a triumph, creating an adrenalin rush like no other. They carry home their shopping bags like hard won trophies, brag to their husbands, and crow to their friends about their “big score.”

There are a variety of meanings attached to the announcement, “I’m going shopping.” Translation could be, “We need things, and I’m going out to get them,” or “I need to get away by myself for awhile,” or even, “I’m down in the dumps and I need a lift.”

Here are some styles and motivations behind shopping:

*Compulsive shoppers

These individuals have a need to go out at regular intervals and acquire the latest fads and styles. They often have two or more of everything at home, but will continue to add to their inventory with the latest colors and fashions. Shopping is way up there on their mental “to do” list, along with feeding the kids and brushing their teeth. It is something they must do every day.

* Impulsive shoppers

They don’t mean to overspend, but temptation is all around them. They seldom preplan, so these shoppers will browse through a store for an hour and choose nothing. On the way out, they will pick up five or six items at the checkout display, because they can’t resist, and they consider it a wasted trip to go home emptyhanded.

* Bargain shoppers

Coupons, discounts, end of season sales and bargain racks all put a gleam in these shoppers eyes. They will drive miles to save a few dollars, and spend money to alter items that don’t really fit, and they don’t really need, but the sale was irresistable. They are at the door when the stores open after a holiday to purchase for next year. Inventory sales and going out of business price slashing will make their hearts beat faster. They are not always up to date and in style, but you can be sure, whatever they have, it was a good deal.

* Secret shoppers

Similar to the compulsive shopper, however, these individuals are overcome by guilt, hide their purchases in the trunk of their car, and sneak them into the house when there are no witnesses. They are in denial about their spending habits. Items hang in their closet for weeks with the price tags still attached, and comments about their ultimately revealed purchase elicit the comment, “Oh, this old thing.”

* Window shoppers

These shoppers rarely buy, but spend fortunes in their fantasies, as they roam the malls mentally furnishing their homes and families with every fine thing they see. They will be gone for hours, and return refreshed and announce, “I didn’t buy a thing.” These shoppers are most pleasing to husbands.

It is possible one idividual could have multiple shopping personalities combined. They simply have the fever, and a shopping spree is the all purpose remedy.

Whatever the style or motivation, shopping is an emotional experience. It can produce happiness, guilt, anxiety, joy, envy, elevated spirits or bad moods. There are also physical side effects, such as high blood pressure, headaches, fatigue and sore feet. There is nothing frivolous about shopping. It is, indeed, a serious business.

Smart shoppers will stay on the safe side of their bank balance and come home from a shopping expedition with a few wise purchases and a renewed spirit.

Unwise shoppers will resort to charge cards, if necessary, to increase their sense of well being. It is a temporary mood enhancer, however, postponing depression for a short interval, until the bills arrive in the mail.

Shopping can chase away the blues, or it can be a mood inducing experience. It all depends on how much money is available and how far it can be stretched.