How Much People Really Spend To Look Good

Designed by Anna Sudit.
Despite the rise in popularity of KonMari, seasonal closet detoxes, and minimalism in general, people still like to shop a lot. And now, we've got the numbers on just how much consumers spend on vanities, or purchases made not out of necessity but to enhance one's appearance, self-confidence, or sense of prestige. Bank of America Merrill Lynch has tabulated this vanity spending worldwide, and the chunk of change is larger than most countries’ entire GDPs. Yikes

According to Quartz, the amount of global vanity spending comes out to $4.5 trillion, larger than Germany’s entire economy (which is the fourth-largest in the world, clocking in at $3.7 trillion). The bank defines vanity spending as “the pursuit of, and the accumulation of, attributes and accessories to augment self-confidence by enhancing one’s appearance and prestige. It is self-actualization through self-improvement and self-focus.” That includes a wide swath of purchases, like fashion, beauty items, health supplements, and cosmetic surgery, to more one-percenter buys like art, jewelry, and the latest technology. Basically, if you'd brag about buying it on Instagram, it's a vanity buy.

Western Europe currently leads global vanity spending at $748 billion per year, while the United States comes in second at $663 billion (with China hot on our heels at $661 billion). 

Whether you believe that the feel-good effects of shopping, the rise of fast-fashion, or social media are to blame, here's hoping the world can slow down and catch its breath before it's too late. Materialism to the tune of trillions definitely isn't pretty. (Quartz)
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