Audio: Retail therapy is the bad date who won't let go


During COVID, did you tell yourself: 'Why shouldn't I treat myself, I'm worth it.'

The need to treat yourself is hard to avoid. I had a bad day at work, I need a (pre-COVID) face mask. I am going on a date, a new outfit it is. I just finished a project, time for a big night out. Lockdown only made that worse.

But what happens when this spirals out of control? Oniomania is the official title for Compulsive Shopping Disorder and it is a lot more common than you may think.

'I'm working so hard I deserve a treat, but it turns into a hamster wheel.'

Carrie Rattle, a therapist and CEO of Stopping Over-shopping New York, explains the dangers of a runaway "treat yourself" mentality. "I'm working so hard I deserve a treat, but it turns into a hamster wheel, right, so, I'm working really hard I deserve a treat Oh my gosh, I'm in debt, I have to work harder and I deserve another treat and oh I'm in more debt and it goes like this."

In the United States, 6 per cent of the population identify as over-shoppers. In Australia, 14 per cent have active accounts with ZipPay or AfterPay, which make impulse buying for instant gratification that much easier. The hangover comes later with the debt accrued.

Don't tell me what to do 

Rattle says when you're already feeling low or anxious and you know something that gives you instant gratification is going to help then that's how you get into the I need to treat-myself mentality. Sometimes it will come from a positive place like "woo hoo, I just got the highest grade in the class" but more often than not it comes from a place of darkness that can't bear the depression they're trying to climb out of or a lack of self-worth.


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