Retail therapy really can make you happier

Shopping can make you happy! Duh. Photo by Thinkstock. Shopping can make you happy! Duh. Photo by Thinkstock. Many people say retail therapy is just a quick fix that lends a momentary high, but a new study says shopping can bring real happiness. Good news for emotional shoppers, but bad news for our bank accounts. According to the Daily Mail, researchers interviewed hundreds of people at shopping malls and asked them to keep a journal of their buying habits to monitor their emotions and any purchases they regretted. The first part of the study, which was published in the Journal of Psychology and Marketing in the U.S., was not surprising: most people who went shopping in a bad mood were more likely to make an impulse purchase. 62% of people bought an item to cheer them up while 28% said they spent money as a type of celebration.

What we found really interesting though was the conclusion of the study, which says "Retail therapy purchases were overwhelmingly beneficial, leading to mood boosts, and no regrets or guilt." Really? No one ever had buyers remorse regarding their impulse purchases or the money the spent on them? It turns out only one person out of hundreds felt bad about splurging.

Selin Atalay and Margaret Meloy, the authors of the study, "Retail therapy: A strategic effort to improve mood" told the Daily Mail, "There seem to be positive consequences to buying oneself a small treat: one does feel better." They also said that "perhaps practitioners have it 'right' when they appeal to consumers with slogans that encourage them to buy themselves splurges."

We've had both good and bad experiences with retail therapy. Sometimes it feels empowering to treat yourself to something nice and it really can get you into a better mood. But sometimes shopping when your head isn't clear results in just buying something-anything-for the sake of buying it and it's nothing you really need or particularly enjoy. More often than not though you might be better off putting away your wallet and spending time with friends and family, working out, reading, gardening, volunteering, or doing something more constructive with your free time that will make you feel good.

Now we're curious about your shopping habits, so take the poll below and weigh in in the comments.

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