Retail Therapy: Why Do We Spend To Feel Good?

When I’ve had a rubbish day and I am in need of cheering up, I’ll often march myself off to the nearest Topshop or make-up counter of choice, just with the false intention of “having a look.” Obviously this does not end up the case. Half an hour and several card swipes later, I’ll leave with a new wardrobe, or those beauty products I just HAD to have. Am I pleased with my new purchases? Of course. Will I feel the same when I eventually summon the courage to check my bank balance? Debatable.

What a does a new lipstick have that a cup of tea and a natter with a good friend doesn’t? Sure, it’s a great lipstick. The packaging is too nice to throw away and it’ll take pride of place on my dresser for weeks. But it also put a massive dent in a bank balance that, as a student, was already in need of some serious TLC. The sad fact is, had I have been given the lipstick for free; I don’t think it would have provided the same pick-me-up that paying an extortionate amount for it did.

Studies into retail therapy have shown that generally speaking, it does work in terms of providing a short-term good feeling. Whilst you can’t buy happiness; you can certainly buy something you love to make yourself feel better. Studies also showed that most people feel online shopping doesn’t provide the same “therapy” as shopping on the high street does, as there is no instant gratification. I know that if I go shopping with the intention of treating myself, even if I can’t find a single thing I like I hate leaving empty handed- and will often just buy something on impulse that ends up a complete waste of money.

The buzz we get from retail therapy seems to be a combination of two things: firstly parting ways with our cash, as this gives whatever we’re buying a value and almost makes it seem more covetable. Secondly, the confidence we get when we wear something new: the feeling of debuting a new outfit or trying an expensive make-up product for the first time.

Though there’s nothing wrong with occasionally giving in to retail therapy, I’m definitely going to try harder to appreciate the things I already have, rather than breaking the bank every time I feel I need cheering up a little. Perhaps the more times I resist giving in, when I do eventually buy that expensive lipstick it’ll be completely guilt free.

Do you find yourself giving in to retail therapy?

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