A shopaholic is someone who shops compulsively – someone who cannot stop themselves shopping. Just as an alcoholic craves the next drink, a shopaholic craves the next purchase. For them, money is like a drug: spending it gives them a high.
Is it a 21st century phenomenon?
It is easier to be a shopaholic these days than in the past because more people have a disposable income (spending money) nowadays. In addition to that, we now live in a consumer society - there are simply more goods available in the shops than there used to be.
However, shopaholics allegedly did exist in the past. Cases such as Marie Antoinette of France are cited. Other figures in history include Jackie Onassis, Imelda Marcos and Princess Diana, all of whom apparently manifested shopaholic symptoms.
Although no one knows exactly what causes the disorder it may have its roots in feelings of low self-esteem and insecurity – feelings which are not exclusive to the 21st century.
Is it something that only affects women?
According to some studies 1 in 20 people is a shopaholic and 9 out of 10 shopaholics are women. But these statistics can be misleading. Traditionally, if a man buys lots and lots of the same sort of thing he is labelled a ‘collector’ not a shopaholic. Is there really so much difference between, say, William Randolph Hearst (who collected antiques) and President Lincoln’s wife (who collected gloves)?
Generally speaking, female compulsive shoppers tend to buy clothes, shoes, make-up and CDs whereas male shopaholics tend to spend on clothes, shoes, electronic equipment and gadgets, CDs and books.
Are you a shopaholic or just a good customer?
Answer these questions to find out if you are suffering from the symptoms of a compulsive spending disorder.
- 1. Do you go shopping to cheer yourself up?
2. Do you frequently get into debt as a result of your shopping sprees?
3. Do you often buy things you will never use?
4. Have you tried to change your behaviour and failed?
5. Do you think your life would improve if you stopped shopping so much?
As yet there has been little research into this phenomenon. No cure has been found so far and clinical drug trials have revealed only that patients respond equally to the drugs and the placebos.
For the time being, the best course of action for a shopaholic seems to be to go shopping with a friend who will help them to control their compulsion to shop to excess.
Quick Quiz: Read the clues below and write the solutions on a piece of paper. Then take the first letter of each answer and rearrange them to find the hidden word connected with this Talking Point.
1. Just as an __________ craves the next drink, a shopaholic craves the next purchase.
2. For them, money is like a drug: spending it __________ them a high.
3. More people have a disposable __________ (spending money) nowadays.
4. There are simply more goods __________ in the shops than there used to be.
5. If a man buys lots and lots of the same sort of thing he is labelled a ‘collector’ __________ a shopaholic.
6. Male shopaholics tend to spend on clothes, shoes, electronic equipment and gadgets, CDs and __________.
7. As yet there has been little __________ into this phenomenon.