Retail Therapy: Can Shopping Improve Your Mental Health?

Shopping is fun, even thrilling—it releases endorphins, and makes us feel better. Over half of Americans shop for retail therapy.

Can shopping help improve your mental health? The answer is a resounding “Yes!” There’s a reason we call it “Retail Therapy.” We’ve explored the future of online shopping in a post-pandemic world, and it looks bright for online retailers. Brighter still for tech innovators envisioning immersive, interactive, and real-time social platforms where friends and families can gather and shop together—again.

Covid Confinement and Virtual Shopping

When Covid shuttered everything from schools to shopping outlets the world entered a whole new way of life. Gone were the daily rituals of socialized work and study environments (and living in sweatpants) followed by restrictions on travel—and a near-total curtailment of in-person shopping.

Within the new realities of collective Covid confinement, we turned our attention to “virtual” everything, hunkering down en masse (yet individually), with our devices, in what became the” new normal” way to stay connected with friends, family, and the outside world.

Over 50% of Americans engage in “Retail Therapy”

Soon, the thrill of a “zillion” online choices became monotonous, our closets bulged from unworn outfits (and unseen shoes), and a collective sense of isolation began to set in.

Before long, our homes were stocked with a doomsday supply of toilet paper, unused fitness equipment, and enough sourdough bread to feed an army—but far fewer people to break it with.

We missed the human touch, camaraderie, and trusted advice of our social cohorts, or simply the affirmation, and admiring glances of showing up fashionably on point.

It’s Called “Retail Therapy” for a Reason

Shopping is fun, even thrilling—it releases endorphins, and makes us feel better. Today’s online shopping paradigm is coupled with anticipation as we wait for our online purchases to arrive. Retail Therapy is a double dose of dopamine!

A TSN Survey of consumer spending habits for found over 64% of female respondents used shopping as a mood enhancer. Topping the list for purchase was clothing purchases, followed by food, shoes, and accessories. Of the 1000 participants, men made themselves feel better, spending on food, electronics, music, and entertainment, followed by clothes, games, and toys.

“Our survey confirms that shopping truly is ‘therapy’ for many people, and can help raise one’s spirits after a bad day. Online shopping makes this pick-me-up only a couple of clicks away,” says CEO, Kevin H. Johnson.

In other words, shopping with friends or family is a sure-fire cure for the blues.

What to we buy to make us feel good?

Moreover, when we ask our peers or larger community for validation or approval of our choices, the collaborative experience creates a sense of belonging—and builds stronger relationships. According to consumer behavior expert and Penn State marketing professor Margaret Meloy, many of us use shopping as a means to improve our mood and stay connected with family members.

Meloy cites consumers who engage in retail “therapy” tend to be happier, express themselves more creatively, and don’t regret their purchases—unlike compulsive shoppers.

Kit Yarrow, a professor of psychology at San Francisco’s Golden Gate University supports those claims in her studies of consumer trends and thinks shopping serves a healthy purpose for a lot of people. “Do it, enjoy it, just don’t overdo it.”

However, in the post-pandemic age of online shopping, it’s far too easy to succumb to the confusion of too many choices. This is where a collective shopping experience—even virtually—brings the fun back into the digital shopping experience—along with the regulating effects of prudent consumers, e.g. the grown-ups in the room.

Lastly, in today’s isolated and online reality, when you include others in your decision-making process, it expresses the value of their input. Who doesn’t love being asked for their honest opinion?

Do These Pants Make My Butt Look Big?

Despite our insatiable (and growing) need to shop, and the astounding tech innovations brought on by a global pandemic, social media outlets haven’t quite figured out how to fully facilitate an immersive, interactive, or two-way “social shopping” experience—or one without an endless stream of advertising.

What was once a fun stroll through the mall with friends, has devolved into an isolated and confusing miasma of hyperlinks exchanged via email lists, or messaging apps, where Amazon is crowding out (or capitalizing), on the competition.

Can you rely upon random reviews? Were they written by real people? Are the products shown as advertised? Do those pants make your butt look big? If you could still shop together, even virtually, your friends and family would let you know—“Oh, now THAT looks fabulous on you!” (even if it’s just from the waist up on your Zoom call). Or “Not so much…”

Friends and family keep it real (sometimes too real, but that’s why we love them).

The Future of Online Shopping is Two-Way Shopping, and Beyond

Given the quantum leaps in online retail technology—like touchless payments and ubiquitous hand-sanitizing stations, shoppers have grown accustomed to instant deliveries, or curbside pickup. Yet, all the leaps in technology gains do not make up for the lost personal interactions, especially now with masks hiding our smiles—a whole new marketplace has emerged.

Imagine, once again, a place where you can gather to shop with your favorite people in real-time—all from the comfort and privacy of your own home? A place where you and your trusted companions could curate products for one another, provide advice, or make decisions on collective purchases for life’s big events—instead of combing through long lists of linked products?

Two-way online shopping is a hyper-personalized shopping “mall” where “coshoppers” (your pals) gather, curate, and purchase products from brands they know and love, for the people they know and love too.

We call this CoCarting, and by all accounts, this newly connected paradigm in online shopping is bound to create new conveniences—while saving you time and money, and keeping you connected with friends and family, in meaningful ways.

Spending time with your loved ones improves your mental health—and helps spread good vibes while shopping. When you introduce a product into your CoCart you begin a dialogue, and shopping event within your socially connected shopping network, e.g. your trusted friends or family.

The 3rd Dimension of Online Shopping

We’ve talked about two-way online shopping, a place for friends to shop together, the third dimension in the future by introducing retailers and product experts into the Coshopping experience. We call this three-way shopping—and it’s the future of online shopping in a pandemic-shaped world.

These virtual yet real-time “Sales” include hosted events, product rollouts, online store openings, trustworthy reviews, and discounts for attendees. Think of CoCarting as a virtual walk through the mall, with your friends—an immersive environment designed to bring people together and help them make informed choices on BILLIONS of products—and have fun doing it—again.

Looking for a fun way to shop with friends and family again? You’ve found it! Join Social Shopper and start CoCarting today!