Survey says: shopping addiction is more rampant than we realize


When it comes to the addiction hierarchy, shopping falls low on the totem pole.

After all, how much damage can you really cause in your life just because you like to spend money?

Quite a lot, reveals a recent survey conducted by

The company surveyed 1,063 Americans about their shopping habits, payment preferences, credit card use and what makes them happy. Results showed that about 20 percent of Americans exhibit behavior that raises bright red addiction flags – and the problem is becoming more widespread.

Warning signs

The survey found that 36.7 percent of respondents have experienced guilt or shame after shopping, while 20.5 percent have hidden purchases from their families. Another 31.7 percent said they "almost always" or "frequently" purchase things just because they're on sale. Yet only 4.7 percent of respondents said they have been labeled "shopaholics."

Much like the rush of a drug or drink, experiencing the thrill of excitement over purchases was reported by 47.4 percent of respondents, and 11 percent said they frequently shopped to improve their mood.

"Since one key indicator of addiction is denial, we didn't expect many respondents to raise their hands and announce, 'Yes! I'm a shopaholic!'" said Charles Tran, founder of, a credit card comparison and financial education website. "But the survey results reveal a significant percentage of consumers display some, or all, of the warning signs of a shopping addiction."

Credit problems

One devastating effect of shopping addiction is the credit horrors that can follow in an addict's wake. Not surprisingly, 19.1 percent of respondents said their main reason for using credit cards was to pay for items that they couldn't afford. And 18.5 percent said they had frequent arguments over money.

Tran elaborated:

We were happy to learn that most consumers use credit cards for the sake of convenience or to save money via rewards programs, but the fact that so many people treat credit cards as extra spending money is disturbing. When people routinely spend so much on their cards that they can’t pay off the monthly balance, we recommend that they temporarily suspend their card use – say, for 30 days. This will help them distinguish between when they’re buying on impulse and when they’re purchasing things they really need.

According to Donald Black, M.D., professor of psychiatry at the University of Iowa College of Medicine, shopping is usually only a problem when it becomes an impulsive, over-the-top behavior that can't be reigned in.

"Compulsive shopping and spending are defined as inappropriate, excessive, and out of control," Dr. Black said. "Like other addictions, it basically has to do with impulsiveness and lack of control over one's impulses. In America, shopping is embedded in our culture; so often, the impulsiveness comes out as excessive shopping."

Full results of the survey can be found on Credit Donkey's website.

Source: Credit Donkey, Web MD

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