What Is Shopping Anxiety And Compulsive Shopping Disorder?


Navigating through significantly larger stores such as supermarkets and home improvement stores can be a daunting task full of choices. You may be concerned with finding the right product for your specific needs, evaluating prices according to your budget, or resisting the temptation to splurge on a product that catches your eye. In addition, many compulsive shoppers turn to consumerism as a coping behavior to relieve stress, depression, or anxiety.

Shopping Anxiety - What Does It Look Like?

If you or someone you know experience the following, they may suffer from shopping anxiety:

  • Physical reactions to anxiety, including sweating, increased heart rate, and labored breathing
  • A compulsion to shop in individuals with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
  • Panic attacks
  • Racing thoughts and overwhelming feelings of dread

Going to the grocery store isn't as straightforward as making your purchases and leaving - several factors need to be taken into consideration, such as navigating in-store crowds and parking lots, when to arrive to avoid long checkout lines, remembering to include everything in your list, and comparing nutritional guidelines for food products.

In addition to grocery stores, clothing department stores can be daunting. Shopping anxiety can be triggered while evaluating various clothing styles, sizes, materials, and sometimes hefty price tags. In addition, a person with bodily insecurities may feel exposed while shopping for clothing in a public setting. Another example of shopping anxiety is parents during back-to-school clothes shopping. Finding clothing styles of a child's desired preference while being mindful of school dress codes are also shopping factors that must be considered.

Nearly Half Of Gen Z Suffers From Shopping Anxiety.

According to a study conducted by M-Cube, nearly half (47 percent) of participants in the UK between the ages of 18-24 repeated increased anxiety while browsing through brick-and-mortar shops than before the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, a slightly higher percentage of participants (49 percent) reported feeling uneasy while shopping in stores with walls and ceilings. Forty-eight percent of participants stated they would prefer using digital navigation devices in stores rather than interacting with staff members.

Online shopping is the preferable option for 55 percent of the Gen Z study participants. Seventy-one percent of those who prefer online shopping favored the convenience of quicker and easier item location compared to shopping in person. Flexibility time and place wise while online shopping was also a preferred convenience for nearly the same amount of participants.

When Is Shopping Anxiety A Sign Compulsive Shopping Disorder?

Individuals with CSD (Compulsive Shopping Disorder) have this insatiable urge to shop and make purchases even if it's against their best interest, they don't need the item or service or face severe negative consequences.

Someone with this disorder may have difficulty with the following:

  • Poor budgeting due to a lack of disciplined spending
  • Poor self-control in punching unnecessary items or services
  • An ongoing desire to splurge or go on shopping sprees
  • Obsessive time spent researching popular, new 'trendy' items or services
  • Maintaining a healthy school, home, or work life is complicated due to out-of-control spending habits.