Four recent reports from three continents-Europe, Africa, and Asia-point to the widening net of shopping addiction. Coupled with my recent post, "Compulsive Buying: A Passage to India?" there's more and more evidence that it poses a serious and worsening global problem.
In a piece in the Austria Times, alarmingly titled "Every fourth Austrian threatened by shopping addiction," Richard Wolf discusses a 2010 study of 1000 consumers. The study found that one in four Austrians goes on regular shopping sprees, with 19% classified as "clearly at risk" and 8% as "strongly at risk" of compulsive shopping. The most vulnerable group in the risk pool were young women, ages 14-24.
A Parisian research team who've published several scholarly articles about compulsive buying interviewed 200 consecutive women entering Les Galeries Lafayette, the famous Parisian department store. Using standardized criteria to diagnose compulsive buying and a questionnaire especially designed to assess compulsive buying and its consequences, they identified a staggering 32.5% of the women as compulsive buyers. Of course, since the sample consisted entirely of "shoppers in the act of shopping," the prevalence is not likely to be as much in the population at large.