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Lightbox Loves: Cathartic Sprees

Ever had a bad day and found yourself clicking ‘add to basket’? It seems you’re not alone. According to a recent report from Canvas8, "cathartic sprees" are becoming an increasingly common way for consumers to deal with stress and anxiety.

So, what exactly is a cathartic spree? It's a shopping binge that's driven by emotions rather than necessity. Cathartic sprees sees you splurging on a new wardrobe, indulging in expensive beauty treatments, or treating yourself to the latest gadgets, even if you can't afford them.

Many believe this behaviour has been exacerbated thanks to recent macro-economic pressures, whilst the weight of work, social media, and personal relationships also play a part in making people turn to shopping as a form of escapism or to de-stress from modern day life.

While retail therapy can provide a temporary sense of relief, the long-term consequences can be damaging. Many end up with credit card debt (particularly as people rack up their reliance on ‘buy now pay later’ – BNPL - models) and a sense of guilt and regret after the initial high wears off.

With 39% of Gen Zers and 34% of Gen Yers naming finance as their main source of stress, brands such as Klarna are already facing large public outcry meaning that releasing BNPL features may not be the quick fix and answer that brands are hoping for, as they risk being perceived as enabling toxic shopping habits.

On the flipside, retailers can help people where they truly need it the most - whether it be helping consumers to set a budget or supporting financial literacy organisations, retailers will do well to help consumers make sensible financial choices. For instance, smart money app ‘Plum’ are helping people save for a rainy day with the ‘Naughty Rule’ where users can set aside savings for every splurge they make, helping consumers balance indulgence and practicality.

All in all, retailers don’t have to be the people’s enemy when it comes to their financial goals. With YouGov reporting that as many as 64% of shoppers are looking to make cuts in their household spend in 2023, many are prioritising being retail savvy and financially intelligent more than anything else this year. As such, brands may be able to win consumer loyalty by showing support and offering practical and responsible solutions to make money go further during this challenging climate.

Source: Canvas8, YouGov