Are our shopping addictions ruling our lives? We’re turning into a nation that can’t stop shopping, good news for retailers, less good for our wallets and very bad news indeed for the growing number of people with a serious shopping addiction.
Retailers are building increasingly sophisticated mobile sites that make it easier to browse and buy from smartphones.
Australians are engaging in online shopping on the commute to work, during lunch breaks and on the trip home.
According to a survey conducted in July by online payments platform eWAY the highest volumes of transactions are during business hours. But there has been strong growth in early morning shopping, indicating mobile use while commuting. The pattern is repeated between 6pm and 7pm, according to the Online Retail Report.
According to Matt Bullock, eWay’s founder and chief executive, the figures show that our love for online shopping shows no sign of slowing down.
Shopping from mobile devices is increasingly common as retailers bombard our email inbox with sales offers that link straight through to online stores. A great deal of time is also being spent developing and deploying social media plans designed to make us shop while browsing social media sites such as Facebook.
It appears to be working, too, with Facebook fans of retailers spending almost 50 per cent more than non-Facebook fans over time, according to data revealed last month by shopper social media company Collective Bias.
Australians spent more than $15 billion over the internet in the past year, according to the National Australia Bank’s online retail sales index, which grew 12.5 per cent in the year to March. Growth was strongest in groceries and liquor, while department and variety stores and fashion also saw strong growth, according to the report.
But for some, the urge to buy things can become a problem.
Bad for your health
Shopping addiction is very real in Australia, according to Sydney psychologist Michelle Laving, who provides specialist education and treatment for people concerned about their shopping and spending behaviour.
While shopping can be a positive vehicle for self-expression and even temporary stress relief, growing numbers of people develop problematic and even addictive shopping patterns, which negatively impacts on their financial health, relationships and psychological wellbeing, Laving says.
“Everyone goes through periods of over-spending from time to time, but most people go into after-shock and feel guilty, so pull back from spending for a period. However, a shopping addict feels guilty, but continues to spend. It becomes a vicious circle.”
While shopping addicts often spend vast sums of borrowed or even stolen money to fuel their addiction, many Australians are bordering on addiction and might not even know it, she says.
“You know you’ve got a problem when you’re browsing online stores on your smartphone at work, or spending a lot of time thinking about or planning your next purchase.”
Melbourne behavioural expert and hypnotherapist Rik Schnabel has worked with people battling many addictions, including shopping.
“There’s a really fine line between someone who likes to buy clothes and a shopping addict. Addicts can actually feel their excitement levels rising when they see a bargain online or something they want to buy, and get a real high from that feeling. But the reality is that overspending due to shopping addiction can be very serious, including overwhelming feelings of guilt, leading to divorce or even prompt suicidal feelings.”
Laving says shopping addiction usually masks deeper issues, such as low self-esteem or past trauma.
“It’s important to understand the reasons why you’re overspending, and look at your triggers, then respond to the trigger.
“I encourage people to stop and think about whether they need the item before making a purchase, and also to consider walking away to see if the urge to purchase will pass,” Laving says.
Tips to avoid overspending
- Plan what you need to purchase before shopping
- Avoid excessive browsing
- Carry cash instead of credit cards
- Take a shopping buddy who won’t encourage you to spend
- Pause and reflect before making a purchase
- Consider if you can afford to spend
- Consider where you will store the new item
- Source: Michelle Laving, Steps to SimplicityThis article was also published by Fairfax: http://www.smh.com.au/money/saving/cant-stop-must-shop-20141009-10rwbx.html#ixzz3FtFlN2YW