Can shopping be therapeutic?

anima shoppingThere’s a reason they call it ‘retail therapy’: going shopping for something because you want to, not because you need to, can certainly put a spring in your step. Shopping, in short, can be a short-term mood booster.

The number of people who shop to feel better is rather high. An survey of 1,000 Americans found that 64% of women and 40% of men indulge in retail therapy. Women generally shop for clothes and men for food. And more than a third of American women believe retail therapy improves their mood, compared with a fifth of men. A separate study by psychologists found that 62% of people had bought something to cheer themselves up – and they didn’t feel guilty afterwards.

There’s some food for thought (or should that be shoes for thought?) in this Time article Is retail therapy for real? Five ways shopping is actually good for you. It says shopping can be relaxing, creative, enlivening, confidence-inspiring and a way of connecting with people. It quotes therapist Peggy Wynne saying that shopping, in moderation, can “soothe the soul”.

The key word here is moderation. If shopping becomes a habit, or addictive, or an excuse for not getting on with your life, then it won’t be therapeutic at all. But otherwise there’s no reason why you shouldn’t allow a perfect little purchase to brighten your day.

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