The Real Truth about Retail Therapy

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The Real Truth about Retail Therapy


What we’re doing with retail therapy is we’re desperately trying to regulate our emotions. We don’t like distressing or uncomfortable emotions. So we’ll do short-lived things that make us feel good in the moment” … Joanne Corrigan – Psychologist.

Retail therapy … is it really therapy or is it as Joanne suggests above a “quick fix” for when we are feeling down and need a quick boost or lift? I mean, who doesn’t love a new pair of shoes or a new handbag, or the latest perfume, right? And most of the time when you buy something new, you do feel good, great even. You can imagine how awesome you will look in your outfit with your new shoes or new handbag and the compliments you will get. BUT it is short-lived, because at some point, the indulgence is going to cost you, especially if it something you haven’t budgeted for and it’s a spur of the moment splurge. Once you realised you have overspent, then the depression sets in and so it becomes a vicious circle, of feeling down and depressed, indulging in some retail therapy, feeling good immediately after the purchase, but some time later feeling down once more when you realised you have overspent, yet AGAIN.

If you have clothes or shoes in your cupboard that you have never worn or items in your house that you have never used (we all are guilty of this, although some more than others … just think of the TV show “Hoarders”), then it is time to rethink your retail therapy.

Although retail therapy might work in the short term, it can never cure what’s driving us to shop in the first place, it just temporarily numbs the pain. So … is there a way of achieving a balance?


I have come up with a few tips on how to make the best use of retail therapy without blowing your budget every time you feel down.

  1. Always have a monthly budget. (Very Important!) and not just in your head. Write all your expenses down. Every month so you can see exactly where your money is going and then stick to it.
  2. When you feel down, instead of going out and just aimlessly buying, how about window shopping instead? You can look, wish for it, but just don’t buy it. The same goes for shopping online – the wish list is there for a reason. Use it.
  3. Instead of buying those expensive shoes or outfit outright, put them on lay-by or hold for a few days while you think seriously about how much you really need/want them. Maybe after a day or two you will realise that you don’t actually really need them, yes, you may always want them, but the question to ask is, “Do I really need them?”
  4.  Look for alternative things to do when feeling down – phone or talk to a friend, get outside into the fresh air for some exercise, take your dog (or a friend or neighbour’s dog) for a walk, read a book or magazine. The options are endless and sometimes making someone else happy, ends up making you feel happy too. That’s a win/win situation.
  5. Take time to laugh. Laughter IS the best medicine.



Life is short, yes, but if buying the shoes means you have to live off bread and water for the rest of the month, then the answer is No. Don’t buy the shoes!

So, what is the real truth about Retail Therapy? It is necessary in our lives, we all need it, but the key is not to let it rule our lives and take over our lives, by buying stuff we don’t really need, but want in an effort to make us feel (temporarily) good about ourselves and our lives. What we need to remember with retail therapy, like most things in life, is Moderation. Find a balance. Find an alternative to shopping/buying when feeling down or depressed.




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About Marlaine Andersen

I have been working for Leads 2 Business, in the Private Projects Department, for 10 years this July. I am Deputy HoD for Private Projects. Researching mining projects and projects through-out the African continent are my areas of research and I find them most interesting.