How much is too much of shopping?

After Black Friday, Cyber Monday and today’s Giving Tuesday, it is safe to say that Christmas shopping season is on its way. British Retail Consortium said today that online sales jumped by 16 per cent in November as retailers geared up for the festive season. The retail and December sales got me thinking whether this excessive shopping can be seen as a problem.

Often labelled as compulsive buying disorder (CBD), excessive shopping cognitions and behaviour leads to distress or impairment, scholars, such as Donald W Black, from the University of Iowa, suggested.

However, as some scholars suggested, it doesn’t necessarily mean that too much shopping can be called a disorder.

Research conducted by Harvard Business School and San Francisco State University, published in the last issue of the Journal of Economic Psychology, showed that in Western economies, as much as 10% of adults may be compulsive spenders and this trend appears to be increasing.

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“Compulsive consumption, chronic and repetitive purchasing accompanied by a loss of control over buying behaviour, results in continued shopping despite numerous harmful emotional, social, and financial consequences”, research suggested.

Study also showed that compulsive buyers are characterised by higher levels of negative emotion, such as depression, anxiety, and critical thoughts about the self.

However, professor Peter Kinderman from Institute of Psychology Health and Society from the University of Liverpool told me that attaching shopping, as a social issue, to a mental diagnosis is wrong.

“If you spend money you don’t have, that’s a problem. But, to suggest that as an illness, insults people who do have mental issues. It’s minimizing the impact of other mental illnesses”, said Kinderman.

“It is a personal thing, which keeps up with a personal judgment. Who’s to say it’s too much”, he added.

With Christmas just around the corner it is expected that people won’t pay much attention whether shopping affects them in any way. However, it is safe to say that many of us will cross the line now and then.


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