If you're feeling down, one of the surest ways to perk yourself up can be shopping. Maybe all it takes is an ice cream cone or a sheet of stickers; maybe you need something bigger to help, like a great pair of expensive shoes or a plane ticket. No matter who you are, you've probably sought relief from your feelings in retail therapy.
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Research shows that this habit is growing pretty much everywhere. English consumer researchers have just released a study on the "role of marketplaces in enabling consumers to confront their problems." In other words, it's why only a trip to DisneyWorld can heal certain souls. Rather than the Magic Kingdom, however, the research team looked at an older site: Lourdes, France, which has been a place of pilgrimage for Catholics for more than 160 years.
The religious site itself is generally the key part of such a journey, but these researchers looked at how pilgrims interacted with the marketplace surrounding the site — a jumble of over 200 hotels, 100 restaurants and 200 souvenir shops. According to a press release, "The interaction and engagement with the religious rituals, as well as the simple secular pursuits of eating, having a coffee or glass of wine, and talking to like-minded others were all pivotal in creating a therapeutic setting for participants."