Shop When You’re Sad Like Brad Pitt

We all get a little glum once in a while … even super rich, famous and beautiful people who are married to the same.

Just ask Brad Pitt.

The gossip site Radar Online reported this past week that the star of “Moneyball” recently played rather fast and loose with his own cash by dropping $33 million within an hour at a single store in Pomona, California.

Other outlets are surmising (if that rather astonishing total didn’t tip it already) that this was no ordinary shopping visit for Pitt: it was a bout of retail therapy for the actor, who is currently in the midst of a maelstrom of rumors that a divorce from his wife, Angelina Jolie, may be on the horizon.

Pish posh, you might say. Retail therapy is only a thing that women engage in, not men.

Well, we’re here to tell you — one, you casually use the term “pish posh?” That’s pretty fancy; and two — the practice of shopping in large part for the sheer pleasure of the activity — a behavior that was for a long time stereotypically associated primarily with women — no longer really knows any gender bounds.

In a 2014 retail therapy study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology (via The Independent), researchers from the University of Michigan wrote that “Retail therapy – shopping that is motivated by distress – is often said to be ineffective, wasteful and a dark side of consumer [behavior], but we propose that retail therapy has been viewed too negatively, and that shopping may be an effective way to [minimize] sadness.”

As retail consumer culture has evolved to the point that shopping habits overall are far less gender-specific than they once were, it follows that engagement in retail therapy — which has a long history intertwined with human civilization itself, and recent studies of which have proven it to hold clinical veracity far beyond it being merely a humorous notion — can be as beneficial to (and sought after by) men as it is for the fairer sex.

That parity has developed in a rather short period of time. In 2013, when Ebates conducted a study on retail therapy in the United States as it related to gender, nearly 64 percent of women reported to engage in the practice, while less than 40 percent of men admitted to doing the same.

Three years later (AKA this year), another study on retail therapy, conducted by the same company, shows that 96 percent of American adults (and 95 percent of American teenagers) — regardless of gender — openly participate in retail therapy (with 85 percent of adults and 86 percent of teens attesting that shopping for its own sake has mood-boosting benefits for them).

When dudes are feeling down, what type of products do they buy to lift their spirits?

The most recent Ebates study shows that the top category for adults in that regard is clothing. This is a marked change among males from the 2013 survey, when apparel — while cited as women’s most common therapeutic retail purchase at that time — only ranked fourth among men, while their No. 1 category was food.

The shift completely aligns with a notable trend in apparel shopping as it relates to gender, though, with Slate having reported earlier this year that — according to a survey from fashion public-relations firm The Boutique @ Ogilvy — men aren’t just on par with women on clothing spend, they’ve actually surpassed them, with the average monthly difference now being $85 to $75 per individual. In keeping with that paradigm, notes the outlet, the U.S. menswear market is now estimated to expand at nearly twice the rate of womenswear, en route to becoming a $110.3 billion business.

So, clothing and food are two primary retail categories through which men cheer themselves up. How many T-shirts and cheeseburgers, pray tell, did Brad Pitt have to purchase in order to spend $33 million in the span of an hour? (He must be really sad, if the rumors are true.)

If you’re worried about the “Ocean's Eleven” trilogy star’s physical health and/or available closet space, cast those fears aside. As Radar Online explains, that substantial dollar amount all went toward building out his antique collection.

While that makes more sense (relatively speaking) for a multi-millionaire movie star, the average Joe obviously doesn’t have the kind of cash lying around — nor, perhaps, the inclination that would be necessary — to fill a hole in his heart with Art Deco sculptures and/or Tyrannosaurus Rex skulls.

However, whether a dude had a bad day at work, is rumored to be getting divorced from his own wife, or is perhaps sad that his wife is not Angelina Jolie — there’s really no limit on the reasons for engaging in retail therapy.

So if you're feeling down, men, go ahead and spend twenty, fifty, even a few hundred dollars — whatever your heart desires and what your bank account can spare — on clothes, electronics, maybe even some furniture.

This is a new world where it’s OK to shop when you’re sad.



The September 2020 Leveraging The Digital Banking Shift Study, PYMNTS examines consumers’ growing use of online and mobile tools to open and manage accounts as well as the factors that are paramount in building and maintaining trust in the current economic environment. The report is based on a survey of nearly 2,200 account-holding U.S. consumers.

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