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Studies: retail therapy may improve mood

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"Retail therapy" may be more than a quaint catch phrase, new research suggests that easing sadness may be just a purchase away.

Shopping to improve one's mood, long derided as a temporary fix for the blues, has been the subject of a string of new reports and surveys that suggest that shopping while sad may indeed help ease this feeling and minimize the impact of a looming stressful event.

More than half of Americans say they have shopped and spent money to improve their mood, according to a survey released on Tuesday from Ebates.com. Although more women admitted to this behavior, with nearly 64% of women saying they've engaged in so-called retail therapy, some 40% of men attempted to shop their blues away.

While Ebates was not designed specifically for retail therapy shoppers, the phenomenon is core to the company's model as a place where consumers can locate deals and cash-back offers, said Mark Moran, Ebates' senior vice president of marketing and distribution.

"I think it'd be fascinating in a future study to look at time of day and see if retail therapy-type shopping happens most often in the afternoon or early evening, and then we might change the type of deals that we highlight on the site then," Moran added.

Among the 1,000 adults polled by TNS Global on behalf of Ebates in March, more than half said they think online shopping provides better therapy than visiting physical store locations.

"It's really convenient," Moran said, explaining why he thought shoppers felt that way. "I don't have to drive anywhere. If I have five minutes to shop, I can do it right now. I don't have to hop in a car."

Interestingly those with a household income of $75,000 or more were more likely to abstain from retail therapy than those on the opposite end of the income spectrum who make less than $30,000 and potentially have fewer bucks to spend.

Of those surveyed, nearly four out of 10 women said retail therapy improves a person's mood compared to about 21% of men.

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