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Kit Yarrow

You know the phrase, “When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping”? There just may be some wisdom in that.

A survey conducted by TNS Global on behalf of found that more than half of Americans (52%, including 64% of women and 40% of men) admit to engaging in “retail therapy”—the act of shopping and spending to improve one’s mood. This echoes a previous study, published in the Journal of Psychology and Marketing, that revealed 62% of shoppers had purchased something to cheer themselves up, and another 28% had purchased as a form of celebration.

But beyond the quick rush provided by making a purchase, is “retail therapy” actually therapeutic? Renowned San Francisco therapist Peggy Wynne, who is known to personally appreciate the mood-boosting quality of a great pair of shoes, says that it can be. “We all enjoy a little retail therapy now and then,” she told me. “In small, manageable doses it can soothe the soul. Shopping isn’t a problem when it’s done in moderation, just like moderate use of alcohol.”

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