Ignore the “Call of the Mall?!”

We just had Presidents Day weekend. Other than giving us a day off, it seemed to be ALL about shopping and sales. If you’re like me, on the last week of #ShopFreeFebruary, it is easy to ignore the ads.

But you could be like the woman who contacted me because she tried #ShopFreeFebruary, and found she was absolutely UNABLE to stop shopping.  In our conversation, she described herself as deeply in debt and a “shopaholic.”  She’s not alone. 

The percentage of compulsive shoppers in the US is estimated at 6% - 9%! That translates to 18 - 30 million people!  In fact, the average American has a $6200 balance and 5 or 6 credit cards.

According to Carrie Rattle of Stopping Over Shopping, the current anxiety of the ongoing pandemic, plus social media influencers, plus “buy now, pay later” credit has resulted in more people having compulsive buying behavior.

Compulsive shopping is a cycle:

1) Anticipation – It starts with being preoccupied with the need to purchase an item or a strong desire to go shopping.

2) Preparation – It is pleasing to plan where to go, to think about what to wear, what to buy, and which credit cards to use.

3) Shopping – The actual experience or delivery of the item can cause excitement, joy, and euphoria.

4) Spending – Finally are feelings of deep remorse, shame, and guilt for the excess spending. 

If this cycle describes you or a loved one, help is available in the form of books, group and individual coaching, self-help courses, FB support groups, debtors and shoppers anonymous groups, as well as an app to help deal with the emotions and urge to shop.

The main strategy is to REPLACE compulsive buying with other positive behaviors such as self-care, exercise, or volunteering. Also, tracking EVERY purchase, your emotions involved while shopping, and the amount spent on needless purchases can be an eye-opening exercise for over-shoppers.  Just pausing between the urge and the action can make a big difference!

I also suggest using a dedicated email for any online shopping and unsubscribing from ALL retailers if online shopping is becoming a vice. That way, reminders of sales will not be mixed into your personal email as unwanted temptations.

I do hope that this post helps you or your loved one to realize that you’re not alone, and many forms of help are available.  


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