Why Do People Overshop?


Our natural tendency is to attempt to amass more and more material possessions while simultaneously decreasing the amount of effort required to do so.

Ah, shopping!! The universal pastime that can make even the most stoic of individuals break into an impromptu happy dance when they find that perfect pair of shoes on sale

While shopping can be a delightful and necessary part of life, there’s a fine line between enjoying a shopping spree and falling headfirst into the abyss of overshopping.

Today, let us dive into the psychological and intriguing world of why people over-shop, complete with some memorable examples that will have you nodding in recognition.

  • The Fear of Missing Out (FOMO): Let’s start with the classic FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). This phenomenon is where people shop excessively because they’re terrified they’ll miss out on a great deal or the latest trends. Many buy three identical handbags on a Black Friday sale because “what if they never go on sale again?” 
  • Emotional Succour: Shopping may be a healthy outlet for relieving stress and unpleasant feelings. Some people go shopping to forget about their troubles, feel better momentarily, or divert their attention from their emotions. Grabbing that new gadget or outfit is the perfect pick-me-up when feeling down. 
  • Reward and Joy: Dopamine, a neurotransmitter linked to reward and happiness, is released in response to shopping, activating the brain’s reward centres. It’s possible to develop a shopping addiction if you’re always trying to recapture the high you get from buying things.
  • Impulsiveness: Overspending may result from impulsiveness, which some people have in greater abundance. Overspending may occur when people make purchases on the spur of the moment without considering the financial repercussions of their actions – Whimsicality, you reckon? 
  • Cultural Impact: Advertising and popular culture nowadays promote a materialistic outlook and the belief that one may find fulfilment in worldly possessions. Constant bombardment from advertisements might lead to a mentality that justifies excessive purchasing.
  • Keeping Up: People may shop excessively to seem socially acceptable or to keep up with the spending patterns of their friends and acquaintances. Overspending may result from inadequacy complexes brought on by comparisons to other people’s material things.
  • Boredom And Need To Fill A Gap: The need to fill an emotional or psychological gap might lead some people to buy excessively. They could think that they’ll finally feel complete if they only have enough stuff.
  • Addiction: Overshopping may become an addiction or habit for certain people. It evolves into an automatic routine that people feel compelled to keep up with despite the costs.
  • Prior Financial Strain: Overspending may strain one’s finances, and the worry and anxiety that comes with debt may paradoxically cause some people to purchase more to cope with their emotions.
  • Lack of Self-Control: Overspending has been linked to a person’s inability to manage spending habits or impulses. Some people need help to avoid purchasing when faced with tempting items or deals.
  • Create an Identity: Some people identify by their buying habits. Shopping and accumulating material goods give them a feeling of accomplishment and self-identity.
  • The Mystical Power of Coupons/ Discounts: Coupons are a double-edged sword. Many people purchase items they don’t need just because they have a coupon. Let us say you bought 10 bags of potato wafers despite not eating much of it because the coupon said it was an offer you couldn’t refuse; nobody will be thrilled, least of all you. 


Last but not least, it is essential to remember that compulsive shopping comes in various forms, from the odd splurge to full-blown addiction. Mental health specialists may be able to assist those whose shopping habits are causing them considerable emotional discomfort, financial difficulties, or functional impairment in their everyday lives. 

These examples might make you laugh, but they remind you to balance indulging in a little retail therapy and letting it spiral out of control. To address the underlying psychological causes and create healthy coping mechanisms, compulsive buyers may benefit from treatment, support groups, and financial counselling.

After all, the joy of shopping is best relished when it doesn’t lead to a closet full of dresses you will not wear and 50 bottles of ketchup, innit? 

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