All of us might not be compulsive/impulsive shoppers or victims to the addiction to shopping, but we’ve all had moments or phases when we shopped irresistibly and uncontrollably.

Especially considering how, thanks to technology, we do not even need to step out of the house to shop; it has become even easier to buy our favorite (and often unnecessary) stuff from the comfort of our homes.

Let us look into the five reasons behind excessive shopping habits to understand why some tend to shop till they drop:

1. Hormones 

It is needless to say that hormones do not only affect women, but men also are affected by them. However, women’s hormones seem to be more dominant, and it becomes pretty evident in their words and actions.

Our lives, on the whole, are run differently than men because of this major reason. When it comes to shopping, our hormones play a huge role, too.

Remember how, every time you are PMSing, you have the urge to binge eat on ice cream and crisps or whatever your comfort food is? And then there are the negative feelings that accompany the pain and completely take over us when we are on our period.

Often these negative feelings include low self-esteem and depression, and what better way is there to build ourselves up than shopping to our heart’s content and looking drop dead gorgeous in our newly bought clothes?

According to research done by Professors Karen Pine and Ben Fletcher,

“Women report mood swings at this time, increased irritability and impulsivity, as well as impaired memory, concentration, and motor coordination. This manifests in them feeling out of control, spending more money than they had intended to, and a greater incidence of unplanned spending or purchasing of items on impulse.”

2. Emotional Regulation

Emotional regulation results in shopping due to both negative and positive reasons. Often when women are too sad, they tend to shop to make themselves feel better. But, also, when they are too happy, they feel the urge to buy something regardless of whether or not their bank account will allow them to afford it.

3. Maintaining an Image/Need for Approval

It might not be too obvious when you read this for the first time, but the connection between maintaining an image and a constant need for approval is deep and very strong.

We all know how each sex goes about displaying their identities and image through their purchases. A study shows that men use luxury goods as a way to attract romantic partners. For women, however, the same study by Wang and Griskvicius says this:

“What we buy not only communicates our status to others, but it also sometimes serves as a “signaling function in romantic relationships.” Who are we primarily signaling? Research says that women signal other women and the quality of their relationships by conspicuously displaying luxury goods in a way that is called “mate guarding.” The more prevalent the mate guarding, the more luxurious and visible the product. So while men buy products to impress the opposite sex, women often buy items to impress other women.”

Therefore, when we buy and wear a beautiful, evidently expensive dress and flaunt it in our neighborhood, we do it because we think it is impressive. This shows how, in our minds, there is a constant need to impress others.

4. Instant Gratification

It is no secret that the millennials are a generation that needs constant instant gratification. Shopping often looks to us like the solution for our depressive states of mind.

Doubtlessly, the rise in technology is a major contributor behind it. From wanting our web pages to load in less than seconds, to wanting our food to arrive almost instantly, we want to be satisfied right here and now. This also, of course, affects our shopping behaviors. Things make us happier than people do.

According to Martin Merzer at CreditCards.com, 75% of us will admit to buying impulsively on occasion.  Following are the emotional reasons people gave for having shopped impulsively:

  • excited (49 percent),
  • bored (30 percent),
  • sad (22 percent),
  • angry (9 percent) or intoxicated (9 percent)

Men were much more likely to admit to buying while intoxicated, while 28% of the women confessed that sadness was their trigger.

Impulsive shopping occasionally is all right, for instance when you want to treat yourself or reward yourself or a loved one with jewelry or shoes on homecoming or Christmas or a birthday. But it needs to be kept in mind that at some point it can become addictive.

Donald Black, MD, professor of psychiatry at the University of Iowa College of Medicine says,

“Like other addictions, it basically has to do with impulsiveness and lack of control over one’s impulses. In America, shopping is embedded in our culture; so often, the impulsiveness comes out as excessive shopping.”

5. Compensatory Consumption

You might notice that there were many things you could not do or buy as a child. Of course, it was so because of the lack of finances or authority back then. But now that you have the purchasing power, you’ll buy things you couldn’t as a child. Even if you do not need to.

Often when we are depressed, we make impulsive decisions to do something or go somewhere or buy something. This compensatory consumption gives us a sense of control, which we did not have as a child, and that is how it gives us temporary happiness or satisfaction.

Conclusion

Now that, with all this information, you have a clearer understanding of the reasons. Triggers and motivations behind women’s shopping habits, we hope that you will be able to better manage yourself. Recognizing and understanding a problem is, after all, the first step to solving it.

We do not mean to imply at all that you shouldn’t shop. Retail therapy does work, after all. But if you realize how your mind is affected by the factors mentioned above, you should be able to better to control it.

Also, a change in our mindsets is direly needed; we need to buy things for ourselves not because other people are watching, but because they make us happy. We need to start doing things for ourselves, not for others, and that’s what will bring us actual, real happiness.

When buying clothes, invest in items that are essential and versatile at the same time.

It is important that we make a list of all the items we already own and stick the list somewhere our eyes regularly go, like the mirror or wardrobe. That way, every time our impulse tries to take over us, we will be reminded of the things we do not need. Perhaps then, we will buy something important. Not only will our craving to buy be satisfied, but perhaps an actual need will also be taken care of.

Happy Shopping!

Guide to Inspired Life