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Retail therapy is shopping with the primary purpose of improving the buyer's mood or disposition. Often seen in people during periods of depression or transition, it is normally a short-lived habit. Items purchased during periods of retail therapy are sometimes referred to as "comfort buys".

Retail therapy was first used as a term in the 1980s with the first reference being this sentence in the Chicago Tribune of Christmas Eve 1986: "We've become a nation measuring out our lives in shopping bags and nursing our psychic ills through retail therapy." [1]

In 2001, the European Union conducted a study finding that 33% of shoppers surveyed had "high level of addiction to rash or unnecessary consumption".[2] This was causing debt problems for many. The same study also found that young Scottish people had the highest susceptibility to binge purchasing.

Researchers at Melbourne University have advocated its classification as a psychological disorder called oniomania or compulsive shopping disorder.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Schmich, Mary (24 December 1986). "A Stopwatch On Shopping". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 28 November 2012. 
  2. ^ "Shopping can make you depressed"
  3. ^ "Investigating retail therapy"


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