Shopping addiction soars with mobile shopping apps

Penny Newton

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A addiction specialist has reported a massive jump in people seeking treatment for shopping addictions since mobile shopping apps have taken off


In the five years since eBay’s mobile app has launched, the online shopping site has revealed that Australians are spending more on their mobile than any other market.

“Australia is going to be a significant contributor to the final eBay mobile tally this year,” says Megan English, eBay spokesperson.

“By the end of the year we expect to see $20bn worth of goods purchased via eBay mobile apps globally. That’s up from $13bn in 2012. And it's 33 times more than the $600 million worth of goods bought on mobile in 2009. Mobile commerce growth shows no signs of slowing down.”

The 'eBay New Era of Mobile Report' also reveled that 62 per cent of young Australians admit to having “shopaholic tendencies” – i.e. someone who can’t think of anything else until they have made a purchase or someone who spends all of their time shopping.

52 per cent of people surveyed admit to selling goods in order to fund a must have purchase, while 8 percent are willing to part with their car or family heirlooms.

But while eBay report record figures for the amount where spending, addiction specialist Robert Mittiga, from the GATS Program Australia says he has seen a massive 150 per cent increase in patients suffering the consequences of online shopping addictions.

“The current trends don’t surprise me as addiction thrives with accessibility. We saw that with gambling over the last 10 years.

"Any addictive behaviors will escalate as the individual has more accessibility. The Internet provides instant “fix” and you don’t have to leave the bedroom”

For Anna* (not her real name), it was the cloak of secrecy mobile shopping apps afford that helped fuel her compulsive shopping behavior, which over the course of four years spiraled dangerously out of control.

“With online shopping I didn’t have to feel ashamed about the amount of money I was spending,” said Anna, who admitted to waking up at one or two in the morning and checking her phone to see what new products had been listed.

“I was at no risk of anyone speculating or judging. In hindsight it was the perfect scenario - I could shop without anyone knowing.”

“I wouldn’t have developed the compulsion if it was a bricks and mortar shop. Its almost like playing the pokies for me, it was scrolling through and selecting the items and placing it into a shopping cart, it was never about the goods – it was the obsessive compulsive nature of it.”

Over four years, Anna eventually defrauded a company over a million dollars over a three year period to fuel her shopping addiction.

Robert, who is treating Anna says that her case is far from unique.

“For some shopping addicts the buying is the only thing that gives them any sense of worth by having possessions. The drive here is insatiable.”

“I was like a robot with a credit card,” says Anna.

"Everyday you’ll tell yourself you won’t do it again, and then the next day you’re back there. You know there’s going to be new things on there, every day you get emailed and sms'd with new deals."

Anna who says she hasn’t compulsively shopped for three years, and has been ‘clean’ since December, has advice for those who think they may have a problem.

"Would you be happy to be completely transparent with your loved ones or close friends looking through your credit card transactions, and let them see the amount of money you’re spending? If you wouldn’t be, then that’s a clear sign there’s a problem.”

If you, or someone you know is at risk of compulsive shopping addictions, contact the gatsprogram.com/shopping-spending-addiction

Do you think mobile apps are contributing to shopping addictions? Let us know by joining the conversation on Y7 Lifestyle Facebook page.'''