Trade Talk: Spending addiction harmful to many
It's a common cure for deep winter doldrums: A trip to the mall and a little "retail therapy." It's a thoroughly unoriginal concept that happens to have a rock-solid basis in reality. I did it myself last weekend to chase the stir-crazy feeling p...
It's a common cure for deep winter doldrums: A trip to the mall and a little "retail therapy." It's a thoroughly unoriginal concept that happens to have a rock-solid basis in reality. I did it myself last weekend to chase the stir-crazy feeling produced by consecutive blizzards. I have to admit, I enjoyed it.
But some people, it seems, enjoy it a little (or quite a bit) too much. Renae Reinardy, a Fargo psychologist who specializes in compulsive behaviors, says that in excess, retail spending can become an addiction as powerful - and as ruinous - as alcohol or chemical dependency.
"For some people, they really do lose control over the behavior," Reinardy said. "I've worked with people who've spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on stuff."
Studies on compulsive shopping vary, but research indicates that a substantial minority of Americans - perhaps as many as 16 percent - have compulsive shopping tendencies. Many of those will shop year-round - "literally every day," Reinardy says - but for some, the holidays may provide more opportunities and excuses to hit the stores.
Like other addictions, shopping over time produces distinct physiological responses in compulsive buyers: As they near the mall, the excitement builds, they feel like they did something wrong if they leave without buying anything, and they get withdrawal symptoms. And like other addictions, compulsive shoppers develop a tolerance - a $100 pair of shoes that once seemed outlandish eventually feels like a normal purchase.
Reinardy says there are a number of reasons people fall into compulsive shopping habits. They may be looking to fill a void, lured by material goods they think will make them desirable, or talk themselves into the notion that they've "earned" a spending binge because of hardship or hard work (it probably doesn't help that such binges are celebrated in popular culture).
Breaking out of those patterns, Reinardy says, might require dedicated behavioral reconditioning. She might take clients on "nonshopping sprees," driving past the mall or sitting in the parking lot as the client struggles with the urge to go in and spend. She might steer them toward stores that are less likely to trigger the behavior, sending them to Walgreens for toilet paper because it's stocked with fewer temptations than Target.
So how do you know you have a problem? "Be honest with yourself," Reinardy said. If you're spending outside your means and feel like you have to hide shopping bags, receipts and credit card bills, think about getting help.
Comings and goings
In business news, Camelot Cleaners has moved from 2812 N. Broadway to 137 19th Ave. N. - that's the Happy Harry's Plaza just north of North Dakota State University. Given the slow but steady southward migration of Fargo, the move makes sense.
On the other side of the river, there's speculation going around (which we haven't been able to substantiate on the record) that Walmart is eyeing a new store in south Moorhead.
City officials say the company has made no direct overtures but did indicate there's been some interest in a large plot of land in the neighborhood. It would be the fourth store in the Fargo-Moorhead area.
We'll be keeping an eye on it.
You can also connect with Trade Talk online at www.tradetalk.areavoices.com .
Readers can reach Forum business reporter Marino Eccher at (701) 241-5502.