During the COVID quarantine, online buying became an addiction for many. During this time, impulse spending increased by an estimated 18 percent. Unplanned buying occurs when you purchase more than intended. Or, buying extra grocery items while shopping when you are hungry. Or, a bad day at work results in a purchase to overcome anxiety.
Most spending occurs to make a person feel better. A survey reported that 72 percent of respondents reported a positive mood from an impulse buy, while 65 percent reported that an impulse buy can reverse a bad day. Others reported that they buy things to help loved ones feel better.
Three personality types are often associated with impulse buying:
- Sensation seekers may not consider the risks of impulse buying but desire the spending experience when they feel guilty, bored, or disengaged.
- Impulse buying tendency buyers are those who are aware of their behavior but don’t necessarily see it as a problem.
- Consumer-driven self-identity is a desire to be part of emerging trends and high-end brands to present an image of status, style, and good taste.
To take advantage of in-person shoppers, stores make use of sensory environments, bold and graphic signage, associations between brand and positive feelings, checkout line “bonus” items, and price discounts and markdowns. Online retailers encourage buying with the use of time-based and quantity-based deals, heavily targeted social media ads, abandoned shopping cart emails, and free shipping.
Symptoms of impulse buying include:
- you shop to feel better, which can be dangerous; find other ways to channel your energy
- you shop to compete with buying to stay up or ahead of others
- you’re bored; plan something else to do–go for a walk, read, write, draw, email a friend
- your finances are suffering; track spending to avoid unnecessary purchases
- you have too much stuff, much of which you will never use
To reduce your impulse buying…
- avoid temptations by unfollowing your favorite brand, unsubscribing from marketing emails, clearing browser cookies, blocking favorite sites, deleting shopping apps from your phone, and unsaving credit card information on your browser.
- create a “fun” budget item as therapy
- save to buy a “big” item to avoid unneeded spending
- wait 24-48 hours before buying an item
- try a no-spend challenge in which you buy nothing for a set number of days, weeks, or months to save money and change past habits.
- ask yourself: “Do I need this today or tomorrow?” If not, don’t buy it.
For additional information on impulse buying, click here
- Have students talk to others to ask about any actions they take to avoid impulse buying.
- Have students create an in-class presentation or video that dramatizes actions to avoid impulse buying.
- What types of impulse buying situations have you experienced or observed?
- How might impulse buying affect long-term financial security?