The Briefing

Is our generation addicted to shopping?

We talk to a psychologist about shopping behaviour, when it becomes problematic, and how we can support each other.

The internet is rife with images of people’s massive sneaker collections, and videos of them unboxing yet another new addition. But is this kind of shopping behaviour really okay?

July 7, 2022
Reading time 2 min.

Shopping as a hobby

Loads of us love to shop. Whether in-store or online, shopping gives us a sense of control and triggers feelings of happiness — even just the anticipation of a potential purchase can improve an otherwise dull day. The fact is, most people enjoy treating themselves to something nice every now and then.

When does shopping become an addiction?

We're not psychologists, but our friend Dominik is! He works at Evermood and has helped more than a few people overcome their problematic shopping addiction. So, we sat down with him and asked some important questions:

How does shopping addiction develop?
"It usually develops as part of a bigger mental health problem. People might be struggling, or feeling upset or stressed, due to difficult life experiences — and they’ll develop an urge to shop. 'I'll buy something and feel better at that moment.' But in the long run, they start to feel worse because there are often negative consequences to their shopping: spending money they don't have, and accumulating debt."

What are symptoms of a shopping addiction?
"One sign of the addiction is that the person continues to buy things even when negative consequences are starting to arise. They might get into conflict with friends and family because of their money problems. Another sign is when someone is buying lots of things they don’t need — things that just end up in their closet and aren't really used."

Tips against problematic buying behavior

  1. Identify the root issue! If you tend to shop when stressed, then it’s best to work on the cause of those stressful feelings.
  2. Remove any ‘one-click to buy’ apps on your phone.
  3. Don't fall into the sales trap — it might seem like a ‘saving’ but you’re still spending money.
  4. If shopping has become a hobby, try and find a healthier and more fulfilling pastime.
  5. Pay with a card, as that lets you see in real time how much money you’ve spent.
  6. Be mindful of paying in instalments, as it’s easy to lose track of how much you’re really spending.
  7. Have a proper financial overview and set yourself specific budgets.
  8. Ask two friends to confirm that you really need the purchase before you buy it.
  9. Set a reminder in your banking app to notify you of any overspending in your monthly ‘Guilty Pleasure’ sub-account. Stay tuned for more on this!

So what does our generation have to do with this?

Everything is available
Our generation can easily shop online 24/7 — and often extremely cheaply.

True, other age groups also know how to go big on Amazon and Zalando. But do your parents know the hashtag #tiktokmademebuyit? There's a lot of marketing on social media, especially for our generation.

Psychologist Dominik also explains: “shopping online means you’re anonymous. This anonymity and 24/7 accessibility makes it easier for people to develop a shopping addiction.”

There must be a lot of everything
Our generation is in a dichotomy: On the one hand, social media has made it normal to buy a lot. On the one hand, there is more awareness of sustainable consumption than ever before - and many brands advertise it.

So, for example, there are people who buy secondhand, but they buy far too much. On the other hand, fast fashion brands are following the "thrifted style" trend.

On TikTok many post their XXL hauls

Debt is trendy
Dominik: "People are developing a better understanding of debt. The TikTok 'Buynowpaylater' trend a few months ago proves that. There are bubbles where people seem to brag about their debt as if it's kind of cool to be addicted to shopping. They’ll say things like “I bought so many new shoes again – I'm just addicted to shopping.” In previous generations, going into debt was a massive red flag."

So is Gen Z addicted to shopping or not?

Dominik: "Gen Z is simply more susceptible because problematic buying behavior can now happen more easily. However, people can also better financially educate themselves — and this can have a big impact, where people learn to handle money in a good way — it's an area with a lot of potential for improvement."

"Money can’t buy happiness."

Dominik: "I would say that people who are happy tend to buy more consciously. Because when you're happier, you don’t make so many impulse purchases to compensate for negative feelings."

Dominik Jourdan, 35, is a psychologist and psychotherapist and has gained a lot of experience in clinical settings and practices. He now works at Evermood, counseling employees and managers about their professional and personal concerns. Dominik has the vision of creating an attractive work environment for all.

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