LOS ANGELES: More than one third of US shoppers display at least one of the warning signs that could indicate a shopping addiction, new research has claimed.

Credit card comparison website CreditDonkey.com surveyed 1,063 Americans about their shopping habits, payment preferences, credit card use, and what makes them happy.

It found that just 4.7% of respondents had been called a "shopaholic" by their friends of family but that a significant proportion showed some or all of the classic signs of a shopping itch.

It is a a significant problem, as upwards of 6% of the US adult population shops compulsively, and most are women, according to Donald W. Black, professor of psychiatry at the University of Iowa. 

Charles Tran, founder of CreditDonkey.com, expressed surprise at the results. "Since one key indicator of addiction is denial, we didn't expect many respondents to raise their hands and announce, 'Yes! I'm a shopaholic!'" he said.

But the survey found that that 37% had felt guilt or shame after shopping, 21% had hidden purchases from their families, while 27% had checked their available credit at least once a week, all pointers to a possible compulsion.

In addition, almost half (47%) of respondents said they experienced a rush of excitement when they went shopping, while 32% were prone to buying things simply because they were on sale.

"Retail therapy", however, was not widespread, as only 11% said they frequently shopped in order to improve their mood.

But in a further hint at potential problems, 24% admitted to having items in their closets that were still in shopping bags or that had not yet had the price tags removed.

Profligate spending does not come without consequences, as 19% said they had frequent arguments over money. And a similar proportion said they used their credit cards to pay for items when they didn't have enough money.

This was a finding that alarmed Tran, who recommended that people unable to pay off their monthly balance should temporarily suspend card use for 30 days in order to help them distinguish between buying on impulse and buying on need.

Data sourced from PR Newswire; additional content by Warc staff