The term Retail Therapy is often over-used and abused. The idea that shopping can make you feel better and beat the blues is something that we all believe in, and also resort to from time to time. For some people it is an excuse to justify shopping. And then there are those who find it rather controversial and suggest ways like exercising, reading, or investing time in a mindful hobby to keep yourself busy and not go down the retail route.
There have been studies that indicate that shopping is in fact a therapy. A trip to the mall can have the same effects as spending time in the spa and walking around with shopping bags can be equated with a brisk walk or a light jog.
Google recently revealed that the searches for “Black Friday deals” are up by 200% this year. It’s no secret that there is a considerable increase in shopping around the holidays. The problem, however, is not with shopping, but rather the mindless shopping for unnecessary items, on impulse.
As long as you have a realistic list of things to buy that you stick to, your shopping therapy falls on the right side of the court. It is only when you are no longer able to find real value in things and feel the urge to buy anything and everything around you, that you have fallen over to the dark side of shopping.
But there is a way to curb this incessant need to shop and stick to what you really need. Let’s face it, stores are going to lure you in with discounts and deals but being mindful and planning your shopping in advance can be helpful. Asking yourself these questions so you don’t fall into the trap of gratification through spending is also equally effective.
How do I feel?
A product may make you feel better in the moment, but think of how it makes you feel a day or week from now. Retail therapy, as we say, is often a fleeting moment of happiness upon purchase. Unless, you have real use for an item, your feelings towards it are going to wean off too soon and it will be on its way to the donation bin within a few uses.
Do I need this?
The one question that can save us from so many shopping disasters. You look at a picture on Instagram and bam, its on its way to your doorstep. You’ve bought it without even contemplating the utility of the item. Always try to reason with your urge to buy a product.
Ask yourself, do you really need to buy it? Does it match your signature style? Do you have an occasion or an event that you need it for? Do you own something similar? The answers to these questions may make it easier to let go off an unnecessary item.
What if I wait?
This usually happens when shopping off-season. When brands put out summer sales in winters and vice versa, our first instinct is to buy everything in sight. But when these same brands put out new season collections the next year, you realize how out of style your old clothes are. Shouldn’t waiting for the right season be a better call? And who knows if you would still be in the mood to use or wear something months from now.
How will I pay for it?
Afterpay and other installment based pay options have become widely available for you to spend without the guilt. But whichever way you decide- to buy that extra unnecessary white bootie just because it’s cute and just because everyone’s wearing it and its on sale AND on afterpay- doesn’t make it for free or a necessity. You still have to pay for it and you WILL be a few dollars shorter as it adds up. You might even be sacrificing your lunches or fitness classes for that extra purchase- your body doesn’t need that. Be mindful! Compromising on other parts of your lifestyle or simply being stuck in a credit cycle can be rather stressful.
Where will I put it?
Come to think of it, this happens to all of us. We buy a ridiculous amount of cheap costume jewelry, shoes, bags, cosmetics, and what not. But do we have the space to store let alone use them? With so many items in the closet, most of them are usually hiding under a pile. It is only during a spring clean you realize how many unused items are just lying in your closet just because you don’t have the space to lay them all out.
Here’s what you should do:
- Get only what you need and restock on products that you use in your daily routines
- Consider large ticket items- a bed, sofa, a TV or those headphones you wanted.
- Buy experiences- tickets, hotels, memberships, classes, etc.
- Invest in items that are classic and timeless- cashmere sweaters, high quality, sustainably produced T-shirts that last several seasons and not particularly trendy or high quality boots, coats, etc.
- Apply the 3 Rs of sustainability approach wherever relevant
If you want to shop mindfully this Black Friday, try to not over consume just for the sake of the sales. Brands are always going to heavily promote their Black Friday Sales with what may seem like attractive offers. But look beyond those 20-30% and understand the value and utility of the item, a few days or weeks from now.
And lastly, try to support small, local, and ethical businesses as much as you can. They seem to be mindful of your shopping habit or therapy session and create products that are suitably or sustainably priced OR items that you truly need.