Considering what we have been through in the past couple of years with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s hardly surprising that we are using a bit of retail therapy as a quick pick-me-up.
ABS figures for May show that despite the cost of living crisis, retail trade grew by a larger than expected 0.9 per cent to a record $34.2 billion. Figures for June, released last week, did not show an overall decline compared with May either, but some categories dipped.
Spending in retail stores fell 3.7 per cent after a big surge, while household goods sales were down 0.3 per cent.
A recent McKinsey & Company report on consumer behavior found shoppers are showing a tendency to maintain the online shopping habits they built during lockdowns.
It also reported that people are planning to spend in ways they might not have been able to previously, such as flights and out-of-home entertainment, in the next two-to-three months.
Another study conducted by comparison website Mozo found negative emotions, boredom and unhappiness are key triggers to spend up big.
More than 80 per cent of survey respondents engaged in comfort spending, with about one-third reporting that they had done so at least once a week. Their main vices include clothes (49 per cent), takeaway food (47 per cent) and chocolate (46 per cent).
Josh Rosenthal, a psychologist at Cove Counseling, said retail therapy releases dopamine in the brain, a pleasure chemical that can be addictive.
“Online shopping has been found to give a dopamine boost, as it is released when we anticipate pleasure. Just browsing, scrolling or window shopping can positively impact your mood,” says Rosenthal.