The principle goal of this research was to enhance understanding of retail therapy, defined as shopping to alleviate negative moods. The specific research objectives were to 1) analyze the conceptual foundations of retail therapy, 2) qualitatively investigate the phenomenon of retail therapy, and 3) develop and validate a scale measuring retail therapy.
Through a detailed conceptual analysis of the two existing approaches to the study of retail therapy, the researcher articulated how these approaches are related. In addition, the exploration of relationships between retail therapy and other consumer behaviors further clarified the concept of retail therapy.
In-depth interviews were conducted to qualitatively investigate consumer experiences of engaging in retail therapy. 43 self-identified therapy shoppers participated in one time interviews. Interview findings revealed the nature of retail therapy during three shopping stages: pre-shopping, shopping, and post-shopping.
Retail therapy scale development consisted of three phases: initial item generation, scale purification, and scale validation. 43 initial scale items were generated based on interview findings and included in the survey questionnaire. 258 survey responses from the general population were used for scale purification through which four factor measurement model was developed with 22 items retained. The refined measurement model was validated using a separate sample of 272 general populations. Implications of research findings were provided in three areas: consumer behavior research, retailers and marketers, and consumers and therapists.