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10 Common Behaviors of a Shopping Addiction

Updated: Jun 23, 2023

Companies are increasingly noticing that shopping addiction has two unintended consequences: a decrease in productivity and the potentially severe financial stress experienced by an employee. People who have a shopping addiction are euphoric when making purchases — their brains chemically respond the same way as a person's brain under the influence of illicit drugs. How does this affect companies?

Shopping Addiction's Potent Allure During the Workday

Surveys show that people shop online when they should be working — for surprisingly long periods of time: 1.7 hours of the day are spent shopping online for goods. Across the nation, that is about 234 million hours a day. When it comes to vacation, the time spent researching and purchasing decreases to 1.3 hours. Nationwide, that amounts to approximately 180 million hours of lost work time on a daily basis. Online shopping and vacation planning can be "seasonal" and therefore employers have productivity concerns that fluctuate throughout the year and escalate in the months of November and December. For employees struggling with a shopping addiction, the expectations of gifts for the holidays coupled with retail promotions can make trying to focus on work or controlling their addiction exponentially more difficult.

Symptoms of a Shopping Addiction

From the outside world, this is an addiction that can be easy to hide. Usually, only the people who are the very closest (and typically live with) someone who has a shopping addiction know of the problem. Many people who compulsively shop typically hide their purchases or if not, seem as if they have plenty of expendable income to spend lavishly. A person with this addiction is likely to:

  • feel intense euphoria or excitement after making purchases

  • shop to cope with stress

  • max out credit cards

  • open new credit cards without paying off previous balances

  • steal or lie in order to continue shopping

  • not be able to pay off debt or manage money

  • obsess over making purchases on a daily or weekly basis

  • buy unnecessary things or purchase items that go unused

  • feel regret or remorse over purchases, but cannot stop shopping

  • be unsuccessful in attempts to control their shopping

These factors can cause tremendous personal stress—which tends to negatively affect the quality and amount of work contributions. An addiction's issues almost always affect a person at their place of employment either due to logistics, physical symptoms, and/or mental duress caused by complications stemming from the addiction.

Recovering from a Shopping Addiction

In many cases, shopping addiction may stem from deeper emotional or mental health conditions. A mental health expert can determine this aspect of the issue. A Recovery Coach can assist a person in recovery by being a source of non-judgemental support, and an expert in helping to identify triggers and how to handle them with positive techniques and healthier habits.

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