Types of Shopping Addictions: It’s More Than What You Think

The Many Faces of Shopping Addiction

It is possible to have a shopping addiction and not even know it. This is because many people have a stereotypical picture in their minds of what a shopping addiction is, when in fact it can manifest in many ways. Understanding the different types of shopping addiction can help increase clarity if you struggle with this process addiction. Here are the types with examples.[1]I searched for the source of this list and two articles mentioned that it came from Shopaholics Anonymous which now appears to be Spenders Anonymous. However, I could not find the list on their … Continue reading

Shopaholic/Flashy Shopping

This type of behavior is likely what comes to mind when thinking of shopping addiction. Individuals who grapple with this portray themselves as big spenders. They seek attention through conspicuous consumption. Examples include The Kardashians, Real Housewives, The Queen of Versailles, and Rich Kids of Instagram/the Internet (rkoi).

Compulsive Shopping

Individuals who struggle with this type of spending are driven to shop as a way to cope with emotions. A pick-me-up or escape from anxiety, depression, or any other emotional burden. While most descriptions depict these individuals as avoiding distressing emotions, I would argue, although perhaps not as frequent, at times the aim is to accentuate a positive emotion. For example, buying a new handbag when a big promotion is obtained.

Bargain Shopping/Hunting

Whether the item is needed or there are already seven at home, individuals who bargain hunt can’t resist a purchase when it is on sale. They get caught up in the idea of how much they are saving, ignoring the fact that the 30% “savings” still required paying 70%. This money has gone to waste because the item was not needed and likely will never be used.

Bulimic Shopping/Compulsive Returning

Caught in a vicious cycle, shoppers with this pattern perpetually buy and return. Whether a big shopping spree or one purchase at a time, these individuals buy (binge) and later return (purge). The returns are often after they feel remorse or shame over the purchase, realize they hadn’t actually needed it, or recognize they were after the thrill of the purchase, not the actual item.

Trophy Shopping/Hunting

Always on the lookout for the “perfect item.” Often spending countless hours in the store or online comparing, contrasting, reading reviews, and looking up specs. Once the trophy is obtained it is onto the next. The act of seeking the perfect items morphs into a compulsion.

Collecting

These individuals seek a sense of completion or wholeness through their collections. Whatever item they are focused on, they want every item of the set or every variation, such as every color. An example is the individual who wants a mint set of coins for every year since they were born.

Hybrid

I am adding this type to the list. Hybrid is a mixture of the addiction styles and in practice, most people likely have a combination of the above behaviors with one or two types being more predominant.[2]This is an armchair assessment and from observing those I work with in therapy. An example would be the individual who buys limited edition Nike Air Max shoes (shopaholic/flashy) and does not settle until they have every color available (collector).

Moving Forward

Knowing the type of shopping addiction behaviors you engage in will help you to recognize when it is happening in the future. You need to know your patterns in order to create change. If you need a plan to start this change process, I recommend starting here with the program I have created to successfully manage shopping addiction.

References

References
1 I searched for the source of this list and two articles mentioned that it came from Shopaholics Anonymous which now appears to be Spenders Anonymous. However, I could not find the list on their website at the time of this post.
2 This is an armchair assessment and from observing those I work with in therapy.

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