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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 stress, it is normally a short-lived habit. Items purchased during periods of retail therapy are sometimes referred to as "comfort buys" (compare comfort food).

The name retail therapy is ironic and semifacetious, acknowledging that shopping hardly qualifies as true therapy in the medical or psychotherapeutic sense. It was first used 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]

The fact that shopping may provide a short time of comfort (relief from dysphoria) but also imposes costs and is subject to comedown and withdrawal make it, like opioid use, either a therapy or an addiction, depending on whether each person uses it adaptively or maladaptively. Retail therapy thus exists on a spectrum with shopping addiction (compulsive buying disorder). 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]

Window shopping can offer some of the comfort of shopping. The advantage is that many items and many stores can be enjoyed without cost—far more than spending would allow. The disadvantage is that one cannot acquire or keep the items.

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"


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retail_therapy — Please support Wikipedia.
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934791 news items

Fayetteville Observer
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 13:15:00 -0700

Out on Ramsey Street, the Dunkin' Donuts-Baskin-Robbins business celebrated its grand reopening yesterday. Have tips, questions or comments for Retail Therapy? Dish it out by emailing retailtherapy@fayobserver.com or contacting staff writer Catherine ...

Retail Dive

Retail Dive
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 07:03:45 -0700

Retail Therapy: Scott Walker's 'Kohl's Curve,' a prom trade show, and more. One Republican presidential candidate's economic policy was apparently inspired by the deals he found at a famous department store chain. By Kelsey Lindsey | August 28, 2015 ...

The Gossip Girls

The Gossip Girls
Thu, 27 Aug 2015 10:03:45 -0700

Taking some time for herself, Hilary Duff engaged in a spot of shopping in a few top Los Angeles boutiques on Wednesday (August 26). The “Younger” actress dressed in dark tones, punctuated with a light brown Chanel handbag as she carried her iced ...

Daily Mail

Daily Mail
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 00:57:57 -0700

And, clearly, Minnie Driver still has both - as she proved when she stepped out for a shopping spree in Los Angeles on Thursday. The brunette beauty, 45, cut an effortlessly youthful figure when she was spotted in a sexy summer dress while parading ...


Sun, 16 Aug 2015 21:18:45 -0700

Lifetime residents, transient students and the up-and-coming young professionals are quick to find a favorite restaurant or store in Tallahassee. But don't fall into a routine. Here are a few new spots that have blossomed and added more eating ...

Sydney Morning Herald

Sydney Morning Herald
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 06:41:15 -0700

Where do you head to in Melbourne if you need a fabulous hat, a retro-styled swimsuit, funky socks and tights, handmade jewellery, a swanky umbrella or an unusual gift? For almost 25 years, the answer to that question has been Scally & Trombone, ...

Fayetteville Observer

Fayetteville Observer
Fri, 14 Aug 2015 11:33:30 -0700

... crisp button-ups, curvy denim, leggings, maxi dresses and more. Have tips, questions or comments for Retail Therapy? Dish it out by emailing retailtherapy@fayobserver.com or contacting staff writer Catherine Pritchard at either pritchardc ...

Fayetteville Observer

Fayetteville Observer
Fri, 21 Aug 2015 10:25:29 -0700

Produce sits in the "garden cooler" at the Food Lion on Legion Road on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015. The store is one of the first in the area to have the walk-in cooler room, which keeps vegetables and produce cooler than conventional store produce areas.

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