Close this search box.
Close this search box.
Close this search box.

Retail Therapy – Flying High

Feeling a little gloomy? Finding that perfect pair of Jimmy Choos is your answer. Read on to find out how and why

Feeling a little gloomy? Finding that perfect pair of Jimmy Choos is your answer. Read on to find out how.

When Elisa tries to explain to Bette Robinson the allure of a Hermes Birkin bag in Lauren Weisberger’s book ‘Everyone Worth Knowing’, she has the girl absolutely perplexed. “It’s a reason for living,” hisses Elisa, and goes on to relate an incident to prove the point. A friend, who was contemplating suicide due to a series of misfortunes befalling her, drops the idea when she gets to know that she is just 18 months away from getting the much-awaited Birkin bag that she had ordered a long time ago. “That Birkin gave her a reason to live! You simply cannot kill yourself when you’re that close…it’s just not an option,” Elisa concludes triumphantly.

This story is, of course, fiction, but it’s an apt way to describe the effect of retail therapy on your mind and heart! Whether as a hobby or a necessity, shopping has proven to be a mood lifter when down or even when not. When Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City movie said that she likes her money right where she can see it, hanging in her closet, she sent out a message to all her female counterparts. Whether you are eyeing that beautiful dress at Chanel or modelling those classy pumps by Yves Saint Laurent, shopping is bound to make you feel not just good, but great! Even Sophie Kinsella’s book, ‘Confessions of a Shopaholic’, touched a million shoppers’ hearts around the world and captured the essence of what drives shoppers to become, well, heavy shoppers…

Go shopping alone, take a friend, take five – whatever pleases you. Try on that white dress, or maybe the red one and pair them up with those gorgeous heels. Take your time, browse, gossip, make a little conversation with the sales assistants or ask ten people for their opinion. Fought with someone and need a quick fix? A little luxury retail therapy never hurt anyone, did it?

The notion that shopping can provide healthy exercise was first proposed in 1950s as part of a multi-generational study at Shopper’s World in Framingham, Mass., one of America’s first malls. “We found that women who spent significant amounts of time shopping were less likely to have heart attacks,” said Dr. Eliot Sigman.  “Less likely than their husbands when they open up their credit card bills, I mean.” Go on, swipe that card and see how it feels!

An upside down frown
Rather than drowning your sorrows in a bucket full of Ben and Jerry’s double chocolate ice cream, extend your hand and make friends with Chanel, Dior, YSL, Prada and Vuitton. They make no elongated promises to you except cheering you up. Ask a woman and she will gladly explain that the important thing about retail therapy is not in actually buying, although there is a thrill in the actual moment of purchase, but in the chaotic and never ending process of scouring. Shoppers actually enjoy wearing out themselves by trying on different things, hunting for a good bargain or even just trying on that gorgeous gown from Vivienne Westwood. It’s a treasure hunt!

What’s more, if you are shopping with your friends, you can turn a shopping trip into a fun girl’s day out! You can stop for coffee, dress up, give advice and laugh together and generally have a good time. Shopping guarantees personal well-being and contributes to the community’s cohesiveness and economy. Stunned? Don’t be. Regular retail therapy really does seem to help people live longer, suggests a research published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health (JECH). You can, in fact, see the process unfolding everyday in the numerous malls of India. Step into DLF Emporio and your eyes will catch that group of ladies carrying umpteen shopping bags, who sit down to analyse their purchases, discuss problems, make lively conversation, have a small meal and refresh themselves, and then get back on track to visit stores which they probably missed out earlier.

Shopping is probably the best form of therapy out there. Occasionally, or rather frequently, it feels good to reward oneself with something luxurious. It is an easy way to assert self-worth, one of the simplest ways actually, says Judith Mueller, executive director of the internationally known resource, The Women’s Center in Vienna, Virginia. A trio of psychology professors, led by Elizabeth Dunn of the University of British Columbia, recently published a paper titled, ‘If Money Doesn’t Make You Happy Then You Probably Aren’t Spending it Right’. Their research examines the relationship between money and happiness and seizes on an intuitive yet elusive notion: Money can and should make you happier, and if it doesn’t, well, you’re doing it wrong.

Let age not be a bar to your dose of retail therapy. In the April 2011 issue of JECH, researchers found that people aged 65 and older in Taiwan, who shopped more, tended to be smokers and alcohol drinkers. But they had better physical and mental health than those who did not shop often.

The icing on the cake
Try on an outfit, strut around in heels with your chin up in the air, and lift your newly purchased handbag up with the tip of one finger. Simply doing this gives you a high. Your worries seem on hold. Add to retail therapy the luxury angle and the world seems a better place already. The fragrance, the impeccable staff, the luxurious layout or even just hearing that luxurious name out loud makes you grin in delight. When you are low, the fit of those Armani jeans, a piece of Godiva chocolate and a dab of Dior lip gloss seems unmatchable by anything else on the planet.

A new survey by the Clothes Show London – the UK capital’s largest fashion and beauty event – shows there is a strong relationship between a girl’s broken heart and her retail habits, as females find a lot of comfort in shopping. Following a split, a woman will spend on a variety of items ranging from clothes to a new haircut and flaunt them on a night out. A pair of killer heels is the most popular item followed by a little black dress, sexy lingerie, designer handbags and high-end make-up, the survey shared. Commenting on the results, Clothes Show London Marketing Manager Maryam Hamizadeh says, “It comes as no surprise that woman turn to retail therapy in times of need.”

Medical experts have noted that while shopping, there is an increase of activity, particularly the release of more endorphins, in the left prefrontal cortex of your brain, a part that is associated with happiness and positive thinking. That is why you feel elated and excited when you see something that you want to buy. Next, the activity keeps you mentally active. Being alert for good deals, calculating your budget while purchasing desired products and services, or planning which store to stop at next keeps the mind at its peak.

Oh, the joy
Retail therapy helps consumers think that they can temporarily curb their unhappiness through impulse purchases. The result? A sense of frivolity and sometimes even shame. But the truth of the matter is that there is increasing evidence that spending money can make you feel better and we hear no one complaining. Luxury brands over the world are realising the latest fix to every womanly woe: retail therapy; and are making conscious efforts to make every consumer’s visit to their store a truly holistic one. “Whoever said money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to go shopping,” said Bo Derek. By now, I am sure that you do, don’t you?