Maybe what you need this time of year are friends.

Jing "Alice" Wang, a marketing professor at Iowa, says there is evidence that people who feel lonely while shopping do things they wind up regretting.

According to the Iowa City Press-Citizen:

The research conducted by Wang and her colleagues shows that...people who are lonely are more at risk of taking products home from the store that they weren't necessarily intending to buy. The perceived lack of control, she said, can lead to a cascade of negative emotions, especially regret.
People who aren’t lonely — that is, who are satisfied with the number and quality of relationships in their lives — usually have more self-control and are less likely to make spur-of-the-moment decisions while shopping."

Hmm, that's some interesting to remember the next time you go out for a tuna sandwich and wind up picking up half a dozen Chia Pets.

Wang's research also found that lonely consumers are more prone to bond with merchandise and treat it like a person. Yeah, seriously.

It's important to note that there is no standard for what lonely is and that there is no set number of friends you need to feel less lonely; rather, Wang says, "It’s about how you feel."

Wang does have some words of wisdom for anyone who shops while feeling lonely, though. "Get a friend to go with you so they can help you control your behavior," she says.

Of course, there is the matter of online shopping, which is the ultimate shopping alone (but not necessarily lonely) experience and a growing pain in the tush for the brick-and-mortar crowd where you can feel lonely amidst the parking lot full of cars who keep taking your space before you get a chance to slide in.