notes on ‘shopaholic’ and ‘shopaholism’

A blend of shop and alcoholic, the noun shopaholic designates a compulsive shopper.

—Cf. the phrase to shop till one drops, which originated in the early 20th century with reference to the consumerist avidity prompted by department stores, particularly during the run-up to Christmas.

These are the earliest occurrences of shopaholic that I have found, in chronological order:

1-: From Ira & Annie on the Road, a weekly letter by Ira Rosenberg, a Free Press photographer, and his wife, Annie, a business executive, who were touring America in a motorhome, published in the Detroit Free Press (Detroit, Michigan) of Sunday 25th June 1972:

Tourist Trap Cures The ‘Shopoholics

Dear Friends:
We have found the cure for “Shopoholics” (people who must stop and shop when they are on the road).

2-: From A House That’s Easy To Live With, an article about the dream house achieved by husband and wife George and Rosemary Gnauck, published in the St. Petersburg Times (St. Petersburg, Florida) of Sunday 1st October 1972:

Mrs. Gnauck is always interested in acquiring more antique pieces and accessories. “My husband says I’m a shopaholic,” she said.

3-: From a letter published in the Confidential Chat section of The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) of Sunday 14th January 1973:

Dear Yesterday’s Mermaid—Your request for less plaster dust has prompted my first letter to the Chat after many years of enjoying every word of it.
Hope I have helped, as you have gotten me to add my name to the Chat family and I am

The noun shopaholism denotes the state or fact of being a compulsive shopper.

These are the earliest occurrences that I have found, in chronological order:

1-: From Shopping / Bloomingdale’s? You can have it class and chic—and its Big Apple-style bedlam, by the fashion writer Donna Britt-Gibson, who “recently returned from a week in New York”, published in the Detroit Free Press (Detroit, Michigan) of Friday 11th March 1983:

Perhaps I’m getting old, but I’ve come to appreciate small stores—or at least unpretentious larger ones—where I can find exactly what I need without dealing with miles of hype and acres of ties, hats, suits, sofas, etchings and goodness-knows-what-else along the way. Long before I was ready to leave Bloomingdale’s, acute consumer overkill had whipped me. Frankly, it’s much easier shopping at Jacobson’s, Saks and Hudson’s.
Troubled by shop-aholism? Try Bloomingdale’s—it just might cure what ails you.

2-: From Diana — from preppy to royalty: Princess has many styles to match several roles, an article by Beth Weinhouse about Diana, Princess of Wales (Diana Frances Spencer – 1961-1997), published in the Courier-Post (Camden, New Jersey) of Saturday 11th May 1985:

Although some critics have sniped at Diana’s shopaholism, others point out that it is very much a part of her job to look beautiful whenever she is in public.

(This article originally appeared in the Ladies’ Home Journal (New York: Downe Publishing, Incorporated) of March 1985.)

3-: From Some shoppers don’t know when to stop, by Sharon Cahill, published in the Las Vegas Review-Journal (Las Vegas, Nevada) of Sunday 23rd June 1985:

Shopaholism is not limited just to women. Although in general women set aside more time for shopping, men who have “compulsive” personalities are just as vulnerable to out-of-control shopping problems as women.

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