There is little disagreement that shopping comprises a significant portion of our lives. And to some extent, this is entirely expected—to live is to consume. However, in most developed nations, shopping has long since passed the role of necessity and has entered the realm of sport.
Our fascination with shopping and consumption has produced many harmful effects on our lives (debt, stress, and busyness). And yet, it continues. Unfortunately, to a degree that few us even realize.
Based on a variety of studies and research methods, here are 17 staggering statistics that articulate our current passion and obsession for shopping:
1. The average woman makes 301 trips to the store annually, spending close to 400 hours a year shopping. This amounts to 8.5 years spent shopping during a typical lifespan. (NY Daily News)
2. Americans spend more on shoes, jewelry, and watches ($100 billion) than on higher education. (Psychology Today)
3. Shopping malls outnumber high schools in America. (Affluenza)
4. 33% of Americans shop online at least once per week. 69% shop online at least monthly. (Mintel)
5. While 50% of online shoppers will increase the size of their orders just to hit the free shipping minimum. (Mintel)
6. An estimated two-thirds of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) comes from retail consumption. (The Balance).
7. On average, an American between the ages of 18 and 65 has $4,717 of credit card debt. (TIME)
8. 63% of Americans do not have enough savings to cover a $500 emergency. (Forbes)
9. When asked about hobbies, girls (age 13-18) identified shopping as their favorite pastime. (Adweek)
10. And 96% of adults and 95% of teens admit they participate in some form of retail therapy. (Yahoo)
11. More than a third of adults and teens said shopping made them feel better than working out. (Yahoo)
12. The average American throws away 65 pounds of clothing per year. (Huffington Post)
13. The $8 billion home organization industry has more than doubled in size since the early 2000’s—growing at a staggering rate of 10% each year. (Uppercase, note: link no longer available)
14. Americans now spend more money on dining out than groceries. (Fox News)
15. The average American woman spends 190 hours each year shopping for clothes, shoes, or window shopping. That same survey found that these same women spend 95 hours shopping for food—this task occupies only half the time of shoe, clothes and window shopping. (Forbes)
16. 50% of Americans will go shopping on Black Friday. (Syracuse)
17. Worldwide, total retail sales were more than $22 trillion in 2014, according to a report from eMarketer.com. And total annual U.S. retail sales have increased an average of 4.5% between 1993 and 2015, according to the U.S. (The Balance)
The numbers paint a jarring picture of excessive shopping and unnecessary consumption. This fascination with shopping might be okay if it was improving the happiness of our lives. But as most of us know, the happiness derived from accumulating material possessions doesn’t last. We ought to be looking elsewhere.