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Definition and symptoms

Compulsive Shopping – Definition

Compulsive buying is an addictive conduct whose object is the purchase, the acquisition of objects, accompanied by brief moments of excitement to covet, and the pleasure of taking away.

Compulsive buying is defined as an « inappropriate purchasing behaviour, » driven by an irrepressible urge. The compulsive buyer buys a product that he does not need nor want. Compulsive buying invades the psychic life and creates financial, social and family problems.

Symptoms of compulsive buying

Compulsive buyers exhibit the following behaviors and symptoms:

  • Buying products they don’t need

  • impulsive, irrepressible, thoughtless purchase under the blow of emotion;

  • tension and excitement when buying things;

  • Pre-purchase concern, anticipation of the act of buying;

  • pleasure in buying

  • Frequent regrets after purchase;

  • guilt about the purchase.

These symptoms may all or partially be expressed in the patients concerned, depending on its personality.


Many emotions are usually experienced by compulsive buyers when they buy something:

  • Anger

  • Anxiety

  • Frustration

  • Guilt

  • exasperation;

  • discouragement;

  • annoyance;

  • Lack of pleasure.

The compulsive buyer seeks, by the purchasing things, to change his or her emotional state, causing a positive experience (purchase).

Care and treatments

The management of this type of disorder is done through psychotherapy. There are several types of them and they must, in any case, be adapted to the personality of the patient.

There are also self-help groups such as « Anonymous Debtors. » They can help the compulsive buyer by giving them some techniques and advice such as planning their expenses, phasing out their debts and setting up a daily expense registry.

Figures and
key data

The study of Granero and al.2 indicates that 3.4% to 6.9% people are diagnosed as « compulsive buyers » in a general population of Europe. The percentage is slightly higher among students (5.9 to 11.5%).

According to this study, the average age of the buyer would be 38 years old.