ost of us have been there--a bad day at work, a rough week in general, or just a “blah mood” leads us into one of our favorite stores. We’re not necessarily looking for something specific, but rather just a bit of cheering-up. When we leave the store, we probably feel better having bought something for ourselves. Retail therapy--we’ve probably all indulged in it at one time or another, but does it actually work on improving moods or is it placebo effect and just being excited about a purchase? Does it matter what is bought?

Thebest part about retail therapy? Almost no one who partakes in it has feelings of buyer's remorse.

Retail therapy isn’t something people partake in just when they’re feeling down, although that’s a major reason people do go shopping when they’re bummed. People also enjoy retail therapy when they’re celebrating an achievement--and an entire episode of the popular show “Parks and Recreation” focuses on spending money on oneself “just because”; the “Treat Yo Self” ideology is not new, nor is it often contested.

A study conducted in 2011 that was published in Psychology and Marketing showed that indeed, shopping does help improve people’s moods. The study points out that although bad-mood-shopping tends to be more impulsive and thus harder to control or restrain, that individuals can and often do learn how to restrict the behavior so that the planning of “slef-treats can be strategically motivated.” In other words, people learn how not to overindulge when they’re retail-therapizing. This is an important factor of shopping when in a bad mood--those who do partake in retail therapy rarely report feelings of buyer’s remorse or regret/guilt over what they’ve purchased.

The study found that 26 percent of the time, shoppers bought clothing, while 20 percent of the time they bought food. Electronics and entertainment products were both reported as being bought 17.4 percent of the time, while accessories (jewelry, shoes, etc.) were purchased 12 percent of of the time. Unsurprisingly, the average amount people spent when they were feeling down was different (and much less) than what they spent when they were celebrating--$59.18 for the former, $115.24 for the latter. This makes sense, since we’re theoretically more likely to feel that we deserve a reward for an achievement.

The best part about retail therapy? 82 percent of those studied were completely happy with their purchases.