Sixteen percent of online shoppers are compulsive shoppers, according to research performed by the University of Richmond's Nancy Ridgway, Monika Kukar-Kinney and Kent B. Monroe. Are you one of them? Below, Ridgway provides guidelines to determine if you're a shopaholic.
From my research, I have learned that there are many more "shopaholics" (or more properly, 'compulsive buyers') in the United States than had been previously thought. In three studies using students, university staff members and buyers from an online clothing retailer, my colleagues and I found that 15.5 percent, 8.9 percent and 16 percent, respectively, were compulsive buyers. If the correct percentage is 8.9 percent, that represents 14 million women. If the percentage is closer to 16 percent, there are as many as 23.6 million women in the United States who can be classified as compulsive buyers. That is a tremendous number of shopaholics.
The warning signs
How can you tell if you are in danger of being shopaholic? Consider the following 10 statements and questions.
- Think about your self-esteem. Self-esteem is how you feel about yourself. If you feel that it is low (i.e., you do not feel good about yourself), you could have one of the triggers for being a shopaholic.
- Are you lonely? Even married people with children can feel lonely. This is another trigger for compulsive buying.
- Are you depressed? Have you been treated for depression or believe that you are depressed? This is also a trigger for compulsive buying.
- Are you stressed? Anxiety and stress are two additional triggers that can lead to overbuying.
- Do you feel guilt? When overbuying, do you feel positive feelings, followed by shame and regret?
- Are you secretive? Do you ever hide purchases that you make from family members or sneak them into your house?
- Does your purchasing result in family arguments?
- Do you have items in your closet still in the bags or with the tags still on them?
- Do you feel a tension to buy something, and feel that you are in a zone when overbuying?
- Test yourself. Take the newly created compulsive buying scale that consists of six items. If you score 25 or higher on the scale, you are likely to be a shopaholic (compulsive buyer).*
If you find that you score 25 or above, there is help. There are self-help books, therapists and websites around the country. One website that is helpful is run by a colleague named April Lane Benson. She is a clinical psychologist in New York and treats women with compulsive buying disorder. Her website is www.stoppingovershopping.com There is a lot of free advice on the website.