Written by: Arabelle Samaniego
Edited by: Sheila Lau
What is a Compulsive Shopper?
A compulsive shopper is also known as a shopping addict, medically termed as “oniomania”, and is associated with poor management of money in the forms of: cash, credit, digital and mobile currency. People can jokingly say that they are shopaholics and use “retail therapy” as their excuse, but this is actually more serious than you think. Most people with Compulsive Buying Disorder (CBD) also meet the criteria for a personality disorder.
Case Study: Meet Addie
Addie is a teenage girl who gets everything she asks for. “A new designer bag because the one you got a week ago was last season Chanel?” Yes! “A new pair of luxury shoes because you stepped in dirt today?” Yes, yes, yes!
Addie has never heard “no” to any of her wishes until her father’s business went bankrupt. Now, Addie is in college and, luckily, her father saved up just enough for her education. Just enough? But how will she afford the new Chanel collection? Now that she can’t rely on her father’s money, Addie had started to work at a store in the mall to make ends meet. But, being surrounded by expensive goods with sale signs on the windows of every store on her way to work is not helping her save any money that she earned.
Addie’s father was definitely a compulsive shopper as much as Addie currently is by buying her everything she ever wanted as a young girl. These early shopping behaviours led to Addie’s CBD in her college years. Every time she was stressed from school, she resorted to online shopping to reduce her stress and give her temporary relief from her real-life problems. She would scroll mindlessly through her Amazon wishlist, adding whatever she saw to her shopping cart. Because Addie mindlessly shopped, she never knew what she was receiving in the mail. The exhilaration she felt every time she opened a new package… it was like opening Christmas gifts every single day!
But, because she spends all her time shopping both online and in-store, she barely has enough time to do her college readings and study for exams. She gets stressed out, and she ends up shopping once again. And, this cycle just keeps going round and round. Addie knows she shouldn’t spend her earnings on that new Chanel bag, but she wants to reward herself for the times she actually gets good grades in school. Buying is what keeps her sane through the stresses of college life.
“Addie yes!” “Addie you deserve it!” “Addie BUY BUY BUY!” Addie maxed out her credit card when she realized she needed help. “It’s not too late to change,” she thought. All these clothes, shoes, luxury handbags. They don’t serve a useful purpose to her anymore, instead she feels ashamed and remorseful.
Now what? Before we present you the solution, let’s take a look at the traits of a person with CBD and common myths associated with it, because Addie certainly isn’t alone.
Traits of a Compulsive Shopper
A compulsive shopper has problematic and concerning behaviours that are uncontrollable, highly distressing, time-consuming, and can even lead to financial, mental, social, and emotional problems. These symptoms can be seen in a person who is suffering from substance abuse. But before you can diagnose yourself or label your friends as shopaholics, we’re going to debunk some of the myths of obsessive buying.
MYTH 1: Only women can be compulsive shoppers
Truth: Statistics show that 8% of compulsive shoppers are men. It is pure sexism and misogyny for people to assume that all women are shopaholics. There is this idea that men, husbands and boyfriends are forced to simply hold their wives’ or girlfriends’ shopping bags as the women shop until they drop. But, in fact, men can be compulsive shoppers too.
MYTH 2: Only wealthy adults can be compulsive shoppers
Truth: Compulsive shoppers can come from any income-class or age group. It can develop very early in childhood. Because most children do not have a clear concept of money and material objects, they simply ask for more and more toys from their parents. If their parents always agree and give into their demands, or if the parents are compulsive shoppers themselves, they may pass on these unhealthy shopping habits to their children.
MYTH 3: Shopping compulsively only affects people financially
Truth: CBD can lead to not only financial problems, but also to mental, emotional, social, and legal problems. CBD can result in extreme overspending, debts, bankruptcy, and financial instability. It can also result in emotional distress due to feelings of guilt, shame, and regret. Not only will CBD affect the shopper, but their friends and family can be impacted as well. The shopper can be so preoccupied with shopping that they do not spend quality time with their loved ones. The same applies for the shopper’s job, leading to legal problems including potential crime.
MYTH 4: Compulsive shoppers can stop willingly
Truth: Compulsive shoppers may already know that they have a shopping problem, but they continue to spend more and more anyways. They cannot simply stop on their own and are in need of help. They suffer from these insatiable cravings to spend, and may suffer withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop. Much like other addictions, shopping addicts must first address the underlying psychological and emotional issues. The treatment must involve professional help from mental health specialists to further identify any core issues that lead to CBD. Based on this assessment, a plan to action can be formed for the compulsive shopper to overcome their addiction.
MYTH 5: Compulsive shoppers only splurge on expensive items
Truth: It is a common misconception that only people of high-income classes can turn into compulsive shoppers. The truth is that people of low to medium-income classes can also splurge on high-end boutiques, as well as in fast fashion and consignment stores. Price does not matter since the rush and pleasure comes from the act of purchasing the item itself, rather than what the item is. Statistics show that compulsive shoppers spend an average of $90-$110 per shopping spree.
MYTH 6: No regrets
Truth: After the rush of purchasing a desired item, a compulsive shopper can immediately experience feelings of extreme regret, shame, and guilt. This explains why a compulsive shopper will often leave the items in its original packaging. They often leave the tags on items with the intent of returning or selling the item, but the intent is often never actually done. This, of course, can lead to hoarding habits.
MYTH 7: Shopping Addiction is a joke
Truth: Like any other addiction, a shopping addiction is a type of substance abuse. It is no laughing matter and a person who has this addiction needs to seek serious help. This addiction is associated with low self-esteem, poor emotional regulation, impaired impulse control, and causes very negative feelings. So, belittling a shopping addiction and not seeking proper treatment can further lead to other serious mental health problems.
With only a few dollars left to her name, Addie sighs and then… EUREKA! Addie found a way to turn her obsessive buying habits into a positive thing. The answer is ÀLA.HAUSSE! Through this app, she was able to resell her clothes, shoes, and bags that she no longer needed. On top of that, she was able to earn some money back. Addie’s closet is significantly smaller, but she smiles to herself, knowing she only wears the things that have meaning to her. Addie wears her purpose. Addie is happy. Addie is on the rise to living a more conscious life.
Via ÀLA.HAUSSE’s Multi-functional and Multi-purposeful Fashion Ecosystem- BUY/SELL/RENT/LEND/ (swap BETA 2021) mobile application, INDIVIDUALS & brands ( BETA 2021) are encouraged to REBUY, RESELL, REUSE and UP-CYCLE their personal “Clossets” aka Clothing Assets, along with overstock inventory and samples. Through this consumerism habit shift we indirectly slow down the urgency on fashion carbon footprint, aiding sustainability as a whole.
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