Do Shopping Addictions Really Exist?

Posted by Jill Chivers in Fashion, Style and Shopping, General, Shopping in the Movies and Media

Sometimes people ask me this question: do shopping addictions really exist?

Sometimes this question is asked outright, in words very similar to those.  Sometimes it is asked without any words being spoken, and the question is there in the lift of an eyebrow when I tell people what I do with my time and my talents.

I’m going to change the question I posed in the title, because the answer is most assuredly yes: shopping addictions DO exist.  The women we have profiled here on this blog tell that story, and my own experience contributes a resounding yes as well.

If they put warning signs up about it, it has to be real, right?

If they put warning signs up about it, it has to be real, right?

But just how bad can a shopping addiction really become?


These two stories tell extreme tales of compulsive shopping run amok.  Shopping addictions left unchecked.  And a huge price to be paid as a result.

£15,000 worth of counterfeit handbags

Tracey Haddow is described as a “shopaholic housewife” and she’s just been sentenced to 180 hours of community service for trademark violations. This is all happening in Scotland, I might add.

And what does this have to do with shopping addictions?  Well, the police found over £15,000 worth of counterfeit handbags and other el-fako branded items in her home, and the extent of these el-fako items adds up to a violation of trademark law.

Who hasn’t bought a knock-off somewhere along the line?  Whether it’s at the Ladies Market in Hong Kong or Canal Street in New York City, knock-offs are easy to find.

I’ve never heard of a consumer being hit with trademark violation before though.  I guess it was the size of her stash that made it hard for the police to simply slap her wrist and let her go with a warning.   They say she had over 200 identical el-fako designer shirts.

$1.5 million of embezzled funds

Betty Jean Barachie was sentenced to over 2 years in prison for embezzling $1.5million dollars from her employer.  And why did she do this? To feed her compulsive shopping habit.

Now Betty Jean bought some interesting stuff, including nearly 60 coats, and hundreds of pairs of shoes and handbags.

All of that is fairly incredible but it wasn’t until I read that she had also purchased 16 chain saws and a tractor that I knew she had an extreme problem.  I can’t even remember the last time I accidentally came across a chain saw in a store, let alone imagining the effort she must have exerted to sourcing one 16 and actually making the purchase.

So shopping addictions are most definitely real, and the repercussions can be devastating.  They’re not always as dramatic as the stories of Tracey and Betty Jean, sure. But the impacts are just as real, even without the chainsaws.

The women who do our program have a self-confessed compulsion to shop, addiction to shopping or a more garden variety shopping problem they would like to change.   One of our members recently reported that she’s saved nearly $5000 on the program so far – and she’s only just halfway through.  If you’re interested in achieving a similar result, come join the program today.


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    4 Responses to “Do Shopping Addictions Really Exist?”

    1. Stacey says:

      Wow! The stories you share are truly dramatic and fascinating. I completely agree with you that there are many, many more women with less dramatic stories, who are nevertheless still struggling with addiction, and suffering the effects. I’m so glad that you provide a forum that shines light on this issue!

    2. An addiction is an addiction is an addiction. To say that shopping can’t be an addiction in this buybuybuy economy is totally unrealistic. We are encouraged to shop. Shoot, even apast President said we are obligated to shop to keep the economy moving! That more people DON’T have shopping addictions is the surprise! Maybe if you called it a “keeping up with the Jones” addiction, or a “profiling to my peeps” addiction it would be more accessible to those who hate shopping (their own addiction: not buying anything…altho that might be better defined as a neurosis). We’re all quirky. It’s great that there are people out there like you sharing their own experiences in moving toward healthy spending habits, lifestyles, etc. Keep up the great work!

    3. Julia says:

      I don’t see how someone’s total avoidance of something could negate the existence of possible addiction to it.

      By the logic of the non-shopper above, could anyone expect for one sister to detest drinking, and the other be an alcoholic? Yet, I can easily point to such a pair of sisters.

      • Jill says:

        thanks Julia for your comment. What I’ve found in talking to people about shopping addictions is not everyone gets it. I’ve had women seriously question whether shopping addictions exist. The answer, of course, is yes they do. But not everyone gets it, as you clearly do.

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