Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Shopping high

It does not take great insight to note that most people love to shop. A pair of eyes will do.

And a visit to state liquor stores in those states that still have them or memories of the retail experience in eastern Europe from the bad old days highlight collectivists' cluelessness (and vulnerability) on this score.

In the U.S., terms of trade have shifted in consumers' favor to the extent that we acquire ever more but are increasingly frustrated by the ensuing space and storage problem because the price of real estate becomes the binding constraint. I recall a short story (by T.C. Boyle?) that includes a couple who drained their swimming pool to use it for storage.

As if there was ever a doubt, Tara Parker-Pope in today's WSJ reports that, "[a] growing body of brain research shows how shopping activates key areas of the brain, boosting our mood and making us feel better -- at least for a while. Peering into a decorated holiday window or finding a hard-to-find toy appears to tap into the brain's reward center, triggering the release of brain chemicals that give you a 'shopping high.'" She goes on to cite the neuroscience that is now available on the topic.

Is it any wonder that shopping centers and malls have given way to lifestyle centers? These are the places where most of our most pleasing communal and open spaces will come from. It's all quite obvious and now also rooted in neuroscience.