Customer sadness leads to merchant gladness

Scientists from four universities, using funding from the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Health, have managed to prove an astoundingly obvious point; sadness motivates people to spend more money. The study involved showing subjects a sad movie, after which they were found willing to pay up to four times as much for an insulated water bottle as those who didn't witness the film.

Also not surprisingly, this increased willingness to spend is more exaggerated when the sadness stems from a personal hurt, the 'post-breakup spree' phenomenon.

This causes me to wonder about the wisdom of usual shop decor at the mall-- the cheery colors, high-spirited music and murals of smiling, young, thin people. Perhaps merchants should think about saddening-down their atmosphere. A little Pearl Jam and Dylan on the speakers, some portraits of Amy Winehouse, Lindsay Lohan, the fat Brittany. A color spectrum ranging from black to indigo. Perhaps an occasional message over the intercom: "Attention (garbled): your boyfriend called to tell you he just wants to be friends. And your puppy died. Have a nice day."

These results should come as a relief to the retail sector. If all the talk about, dare we say it, recession is a major downer for the average American, perhaps merchants will see a sharp uptick in grief shopping.