Shopping addiction: A brief review

Daryl Wayne Niedermoser, Sylvie Petitjean, Nina Schweinfurth, Lena Wirz, Vivien Ankli, Hannah Schilling, Claudia Zueger, Martin Meyer, Renanto Poespodihardjo, Gerhard Wiesbeck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Shopping is, and has long been, an important part of everyday life. It can easily take on the characteristics and symptoms of a behavioral addiction, such as preoccupation, mental appropriation as well as compulsiveness and loss of control. Thus, shopping addiction is becoming an increasingly important topic in research, especially in the context of the current pandemic (COVID-19). The pandemic has resulted in an increase in perceived risk factors. There is a plausible relationship between high perceived stress level along with perceived social isolation and extensive leisure time in shifting toward a pathological shopping behavior. While that does not only have a negative impact on functional but also on social and financial aspects, findings suggest that the threshold is also becoming lower due to changing social values, including changing self-conception and progressing digitalization that make online shopping more accessible. Although different reasons for an increasing prevalence rate are being discussed, the diagnosis conceptualization and classification is still unclear, leading to different and unstandardized therapeutic approaches. In addition to its impact on daily life, shopping addiction can indicate other mental illnesses. As it turned out, it is often comorbid in anxiety disorders, impulsive behaviors and substance abuse. An early and targeted treatment, as well as rising awareness, seem to be crucial and call for further investigation. While young people seem to be more at risk of developing critical shopping behavior, findings show no clear gender differences in frequency but differences in terms of buying motivation. Based on published research papers, the present narrative review therefore describes and critically discusses the phenomenon of shopping addiction and the current state of research in a broad variety of topics, considering types of shopping behavior, including Internet-based, offline, mood, impulse and leisure shopping, and diagnostic and therapeutic options in the context of influencing factors mentioned above. The topics were selected at the discretion of the authors, whereby no claim is made to be exhaustive.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-207
Number of pages9
JournalPractice Innovations
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021

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