Are you 1) A Raving Shopaholic, or 2) Merely an Impulse Buyer?

Emotional Spending: Are You a Casual Buyer or Secret Shopaholic?

Take our FREE survey!

Some people develop shopping addictions. They get addicted to how their brains feel while shopping. Our brains release endorphins and dopamine in reaction to rewards related to shopping – very similar to the way that our brains react to drugs or alcohol.

Note: Just because you go on a shopping spree every now and then does not mean you have a serious problem. (Your credit card might get rather stressed, though!)

However, many people spend excessive amounts of time and money engaging in compulsive shopping, leading to social or occupational functioning restrictions. Such people can be considered as being “addicted” to shopping. Shopping has never been as easy to do as it is these days -, swish, swipe and push. Your product comes to your house, sometimes on the same day, neatly packaged, waiting for your “unboxing”.

If you think you might be addicted to shopping or you have a problem resisting those online impulse purchases, you are not alone. Around 90% per cent of Americans, for example, have given in to impulse shopping at one time or another, spending about $80 each time they do.  

Sometimes we want to spend money on unnecessary purchases, which is okay to do as part and parcel of everyday life. However, when we continue to succumb to the temptation of impulse shopping, our spending can spiral way out of control. This can lead to a cycle of compulsive shopping, which is an unhealthy addiction – and one that you should recognize before it spirals way out of control, as it has for a lot of people that I see.

A shopping addiction is expensive and can drain your life. It can empty your bank account, eat up hours upon hours of your time and leave you never feeling truly satisfied. Many compulsive shoppers often feel much worse after shopping, which is the same feelings that anyone battling other addictions feels.


Shopaholic – The difference between compulsive and impulsive shopping

Compulsive and impulsive buying are terms that often get confused for each other. Initially, they may seem similar, but they are very different in their cause, outcome and frequency.

Compulsive shopping is where a person plans to shop to relieve the uncomfortable feelings that they are experiencing. For these people, shopping can also be used as a way to escape negative emotions, like anxiety, anger, depression, self-critical thoughts or even boredom.

Impulsive shopping (impulse buying) is a sudden urge to make an unplanned purchase of goods, products or services. It is extremely common. We all do it, and we all have done it at one time or another.

For example, You are in the supermarket doing your weekly shopping. You see that your favourite ready meal is on sale. Even though it isn’t on your shopping list, you simply get the urge to buy it.

Buying the ready meal was not planned. However, as soon as you saw it in the store, you succumbed to an urge in the moment, then purchased it, even though your freezer is bulging with enough food to last you for months.   

Compulsive shopping is planning to shop to relieve an uncomfortable tension, even for a short while. For these people, shopping can also be used as a way to escape negative feelings, such as anxiety, depression, anger, self-critical thoughts or even plain boredom.

Compulsive shoppers continue this cycle of their behaviour despite its adverse consequences, such as accumulating credit card debt, a strained relationship due to shopping too much, or overwhelming guilt due to spending way too much. Many compulsive shoppers also find themselves constantly thinking about going shopping, and have very poor impulse control when it comes to shopping.

There may be an initial feeling of euphoria, having bagged their ‘prize’. They get a real buzz from it. However, by the time the euphoria wears off, they are often swamped with a feeling of regret about spending too much or getting something they simply didn’t need in the first place.

Then, anxiety sets in when they realise that they have to perhaps tell their partner about the purchases or when they get their credit card bill with the actual total of their compulsive buying. It can come as a huge shock. They usually become overwhelmed with guilt, which, funnily enough, may cause them to buy more things they don’t need. It is a vicious cycle.

While a shopping addiction might sound harmless, it can take a toll on your finances and mental well-being. Overspending can lead to debt, but it can also hurt your relationships or career.

It’s essential to recognize the signs of a shopping addiction early so you can learn how to shop online and develop better, controlled spending habits in the future.

By the way – did you know: There is a Shopaholics Anonymous like there is Alcoholics Anonymous – because it is a real problem and a real addiction.

Take our free, confidential survey and find out if you are addicted to shopping, or whether you just buy on impulse. It could be very revealing…

 Compulsive or Impulsive shopper? Find out!

Your Name:
Your Email:
Your gender:
Your age:
Shopping (online and/or in shops) is a way of life for me
I look forward to shopping a lot
I can't stop thinking about what to buy next.
How much do you spend approx. on online shopping in a month (in £'s)
I am finding that I am neglecting everyday things just to shop online instead
I get an increasing urge to shop online, for things I don't really need.
My relationship with my partner is suffering because of my shopping/spending
I argue with people (partner, relations) about my buying stuff
I get aggressive/upset/stressed out if prevented from buying stuff
I always end up buying more things than I intended
I shop just to feel better.
I don't seem to be able to cut down on buying stuff
I have tried to stop online shopping
If I stop (because of illness for example) I get waves of strong urges to buy
I am getting into debt/maxing out my cards through my buying problem
I shop/buy so much that it has impaired my well-being.
I can't sleep/don't eat properly/don't look after myself etc. because of it

If you feel that you have become a compulsive buyer rather than an impulsive buyer and it is beginning to overtake your life, reach out to me. I offer a 30-minute non-judgemental consultation via phone, WhatsApp, etc., to assess how I could help you in your situation.

And if you have realized that you are on the road to becoming a compulsive shopper, now is the time to seek assistance before it gets way too difficult for you to overcome.

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