Compulsive buying behavior (CB) is a growing concern in the majority of the developed countries. As a result of a compulsive impulse and a chronic loss of control, people prone to this maladaptive tendency purchase products which they do not need. The last 20 years of research has advanced our knowledge regarding this phenomenon and has shed some light on the far reaching consequences of this disorder for the persons affected as well as for society as a whole.

With online shopping gaining in importance, consumers have even more chance to engage in CB. The specific characteristics of the online retail channel, such as availability, flexibility of payment and fast delivery time, can encourage affected consumers to engage in their shopping splurges online. Do compulsive buyers make their purchases mostly online or in the stores? Is catalog shopping popular among compulsive buyers? Are they more prone to buy via TV in comparison to non-compulsive buyers? This paper attempts to answer these questions by investigating the differences between compulsive and non-compulsive buyers with regard to the retail channels used (brick-and-mortar stores, Internet, catalog, and TV).

In our sample of 1054 young consumers (18-24years), 79 (7,6%) could, according to the CB screening measure of Ridgway, Kukar-Kinney and Monroe (2008), be identified as compulsive buyers. The results of our research show that purchases are still done mainly in traditional stores. Although a considerable amount of research points to the growing importance of online shopping, more than 60% of our young consumer sample never or only exceptionally makes use of this shopping channel. Also the post-order shopping channel appears to be used very little. 80% of the consumers in our sample never or only exceptionally use this channel. Television appears to be the least preferred shopping channel, with only 2% of the consumers admitting to ever use TV for their purchases.

The results of our analyses show significant differences in the use of different shopping channels between compulsive and non-compulsive consumers. Both groups were compared with regard to their frequency of use of specific shopping channels and their addictive tendency to use these channels. The results show that compulsive buyers are more addicted to buying via each shopping channel, but the largest difference was still observed for traditional shopping. This finding contradicts the hypothesis that compulsive buyers, who are aware of the social undesirability of their addictive tendency, would rather choose 'covert' shopping formats for their purchases. The current paper discusses possible explanation for this phenomenon.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEIRASS 9-12 July 2012, Vienna (Austria)
Publication statusPublished - 2011
EventUnknown -
Duration: 1 Jan 2011 → …


Period1/01/11 → …

    Research areas

  • compulsive buying, retailing, shopping channels

ID: 2115986