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Take the Test: Are You a Compulsive Shopper?


Thanksgiving, with its note of gratitude for all we have, has passed, and today we face Black Friday here in France.


Plus, I see my town of Auray and its many shops, big and small, getting ready for Christmas - and Christmas shopping. This time of year, it's easy to go a little too far into impulse buying for a brief emotional fix. The short term solution can turn into a long term problem of debt, regret, and inner emptiness just when we are meant to be happy.


Those who have something to sell also do their best to overcome their customers' sense of rationality. From internet algorithms that track your urges to repeatedly put what you'd like to have right in front of you, and at a discount, to cheerful store clerks giving out treats and compliments, the business world is here to help you spend money. recklessly money.


I should know that. I worked in marketing in the luxury industry for many years and still remember my boss telling me, “Deborah, we don't just sell great food. We are selling a dream. And people pay our prices to have this dream. Indeed, consumer psychologists agree that consumers do buy products for their psychological significance, not for their innate value or usefulness.


Impulse buying takes place when the buyer perceives that the product matches their personal vision or self-vision, in order to affirm and strengthen their own identity. The purchase thus becomes a kind of trophy that the consumer uses to communicate his identity. If you like to think of yourself young and pretty cool, you won't be afraid to spend more on Levis rather than a hypermarket brand of jeans. In addition, narcissism, on the rise in recent decades, leads consumers to spend money to cultivate their appearance and material possessions.


I also remember my marketing years too that a really successful brand manages to become like a person, with obvious human personality traits, that buyers attach to their purchase to communicate their own personality to the world.


While people buy more compulsively in individualistic cultures, we also do so when we are stressed and feeling helpless - hence the spike in momentum after an extreme natural disaster. Interestingly, those with a strong sense of personal power or superiority tend to be less vulnerable to compulsive shopping.


When shopping becomes dysfunctional


A study carried out in 2016 showed that 3.4% to 6.9% of the European population can be classified as a “compulsive shopper”, with the rates being slightly higher for students (5.9 to 11.5%); the average compulsive European shopper is 38 years old. When buying becomes dysfunctional, buying behavior is inappropriate and comes with an overwhelming urge to buy. The thing purchased is something that the buyer doesn't even really need or want, although there is a brief moment of excitement right before and after the purchase.


In reality, the purchase is made for the same reasons as any addictive behavior: the need to manage emotions.


Am I a compulsive shopper?


  • You buy things that you don't want or want .

  • You buy on impulse, usually when you are under the influence of an emotion, and your behavior is thoughtless and thoughtless.

  • You are tense or excited before you buy.

  • You are often preoccupied with the act of future purchase, to the point of even becoming an obsession.

  • You feel pleasure, gratification and / or relief when buying.

  • You regret your purchase.

  • You feel guilty for giving in to the compulsion to buy.

  • You are trying to fight the urge to buy.

The consequences of this addictive behavior are just as serious as those of alcohol or drugs, but compulsive buying behaviors are often not taken seriously.


Cognitive behavioral therapy is a treatment proven to help the growing number of people with this condition.


When purchases are not dysfunctional


  • Set spending limits. Set a budget and stick to it.

  • Know your spending triggers. A nice boutique or a big store with that great music and lots of nice sales agents, are you tempted?

  • Shop online.

  • Have a game plan. Think about what you want to buy for the holidays and do your research to compare before you buy.

  • Go on a money diet. Don't buy on credit, save for what you want.

  • Track your spending. Know how much you spend per day.

  • Avoid spending to save. Buying two pairs of shoes to get a free pair isn't a saving when you can't afford any shoes at all.

Shop ahead. Long before Christmas, to space out expenses.


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