Women love an excuse to go shopping; in fact everyone enjoys treating themselves to something new. But sometimes we feel a little guilty about our purchase. However, recent research has put an end to this unnecessary shame because apparently shopping benefits health and may even prolong life.
Shopping can be viewed as a social activity that aids mental health by reducing isolation and encouraging communication. According to Professor Rik Peters, from the School of Economics and Management at Tilburg University in the Netherlands, shopping provides “increasing opportunities for special interaction and improving social skills [which] may be more effective at reducing loneliness”.
Researchers conducted 100 interviews at various shopping centres across the UK. The shoppers were asked to detail their shopping behaviour, mood and buys they regretted purchasing. The data indicated that 62% of people bought an item to cheer themselves up, 28% were indulging in a form of celebration and those who were in a negative mood were more likely to impulse buy.
The Ross school of business acknowledges that “people often shop when feeling sad” but aren’t sure “whether and why shopping reduces lingering sadness”. However separate research by 3 experimenters, involving 548 people, found sadness is reduced because “making shopping choices helps to restore a sense of personal control over one’s environment and thus helps to alleviate residual sadness”.
Scientists from Michigan University, who conducted a study which was published in the ‘Journal of consumer psychology’, believe retail therapy is “viewed too negatively”. People hear the word shopping and imagine women buying more make-up, clothes and shoes to add to their collection of untouched items. To understand the positive effects of shopping we should take inspiration from other countries.
The people of Asia definitely believe in the positive effects of shopping, their streets are lined with everything from high end designer stores to cheap market stalls. “Shopping, buying and consuming can result in pleasurable moments, and sometimes in meaningful and engaging experiences that create happiness” says Professor Bernd Schmitt, executive director of Singapore’s Institute on Asian Consumer Insight at Nanyang Tech University.
Moreover a study published in 2011 in the ‘Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health’ suggests shopping could increase your lifespan. 1,850 elderly Taiwanese people were asked to report on their shopping habits. Those who were daily shoppers were found to be 27% less likely to die”. The study also noted that ‘shopping’ does not mean clothes and shoes, it could mean anything at any price; “treating myself to nice meals or buying interesting produce at supermarkets works for me” says Wong Pei-yan. International life span statistics seem to support this theory; Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong rank 2nd, 4th and 5th respectively with an average life expectancy of 84 years. The UK is lagging behind sitting in 29th place.
Of course when we are talking about shopping we mean the occasional new purchase, not maxing out every card you own until you are up to your eyeballs in debt and testing cardboard boxes for comfort, whilst you prepare to be evicted from your home.
Happy responsible shopping.