Impulse Buying on the Rise—It Gets Tougher for Consumers

The supply chain instability and inflation have not affected American consumer behavior, as consumers still crave to buy, buy, and buy. Impulsive purchasing has long been a hindrance to achieving financial objectives and plans. But this has not stopped consumers from indulging.

Slickdeals reports that Americans spend $314 per month on impulsive purchases, up from $276 in 2021 and $183 in 2020. The same study says 64 percent of U.S. adults admit to an increase in their impulse spending in 2022. Seventy-three percent of respondents said most of their purchases tend to be spontaneous, as against 59% from the same period last year.

Consumers Can’t Help It

Given the unfavorable odds for customers, resisting the urge to buy seems impossible from businesses taking advantage of consumers’ irrational impulses to other economic forces outside their control and internal conflicts that trigger emotional buying.

One may assume that the primary focus of impulse purchases would be on the most basic needs, namely groceries. On the contrary, the analysis found that clothing leads at 35% of purchases, followed by groceries at 30%. Perhaps, the recent e-commerce boom is one reason impulse buyers spend more on clothing.

Data shows that fashion e-commerce accounts for approximately 23% of all online retail sales in the United States and has been steadily growing over the last two decades.

Elena Jones is a credit and personal finance expert and founder of Financejar. She draws attention to how social interaction and online purchasing may have contributed to the rising tide of impulsive purchases.

“With the assistance of the streaming live console, customers in the Internet broadcasting space can view the corporeal exhibit of vendors on the opposite edge of the communication device instantaneously and interact with them via message,” she says.

“In most cases, the live stream interface is linked to a payment provider via which one could make a purchase straightforwardly, and these exchanges can be completed immediately under the vendor’s supervision. This implies that customers can start making consumer choices quickly thanks to the actual tangible showcase and the purchaser’s tough revenue guidelines.”

Another possibility is that consumers are attempting to reduce their expenditure by taking advantage of sales or trying to avoid paying more due to the potential for price increases associated with unpredictable commodity prices.

According to Norbert Andrews, the head of Everyday Power’s finance department, people make hasty purchases during periods of high inflation because prices for products and services rise faster than personal incomes. As a result, they feel compelled to buy things now, while they are still inexpensive, rather than waiting and running the danger of having to pay more in the future.

Andrews adds that revenge buying is also a contributing factor, noting that the recent pandemic has driven the rise in impulsive purchases. He says that people realize they can just disappear from the face of the Earth. Hence, the tendency to impulse buy is higher than in the past years. “People are now giving in to the idea of living life to the fullest, hence, the higher data on impulse buying,” he says.

Staying In Control

If you have the cash on hand and savings to support impulse shopping, it’s not always a negative thing. Here are several strategies to help you reduce your spending on impulsive purchases, though.

Avoid Emotional Shopping

“If you feel that your emotions are very high at the moment, extremely happy, sad, angry, or such, do not go window shopping,” Andrews says. Instead, he suggests that if you think you need to buy something, wait for at least three days before revisiting the shop. “This waiting method, Andrews says, allows you to lessen impulse buying as you get to settle your emotions first and assess if you want or need the product.”

Adding to the above, Steve Wilson, founder of Bankdash.com, shares how he avoids emotional buying. He adds items to his cart without paying for them and leaves the items to sit in there for a few weeks. Then proceeds to buy them if he still wants to. For in-store purchases, Wilson says he places the item in his cart and browses the aisles. This allows him a few minutes to calm down and think rationally.

Deceive Yourself

Wilson claims that convincing yourself that you are short on funds can help you avoid impulsive purchases. It would be tough to spend money on things you do not need once you can make some funds inaccessible. Wilsons transfers non-essential finances (any money not going toward food, rent, utilities, or schooling) to a different bank account.

“When I receive my paycheck in my bank account, I transfer whatever I don’t need right away to my savings,” he says. “By doing so, I deceive myself into believing that I lack the necessary finances since doing so would require me to transfer money back to my checking account before I could use them.”

Less Shopping and Social Media

Many last-minute purchases are made online, especially on social media sites. Social media also encourages a culture of comparison by urging you to purchase what others possess or spend money on items others are buying.

According to a survey by Bankrate, about 25% of participants indicated they wanted to appear successful on social media, which may lead them to spend more money trying to win over followers. Spending less time on social media will reduce your exposure to sales posts, adverts, and peer pressure.

In addition, planning your shopping trips ahead of time helps you purchase all you need. You won’t have to run to the store every time, which makes it more likely that you’ll find and buy unnecessary things. You can also make shopping more difficult by deleting shopping apps from your phone.

Pay With Cash

Paying with credit cards instead of cash increases the likelihood of impulsive purchases. Leave your credit card at home if you often use it to make all of your transactions and opt to pay with cash instead. You might be less inclined to make impulsive purchases when you can see the money leaving your hands. Also, do not store credit card information and keep it away from your computers.

Get an Inexpensive Self-Treat

Similar to having an unhealthy relationship with food, unhealthy spending without flexibility can make you lose control. You’ll end up eating or, in this case, buying everything. Establish a little wiggle room in your budget for self-treats. Find cheaper but equally effective alternatives to traditional forms of self-indulgence.

Clarify Spending and Saving Goals

Create a detailed budget and go over it each month. You may consider enrolling in a credit counseling program to help you with debt reduction and budgeting advice. Setting up a budget that you follow and sticking to it will help keep you responsible.

Wrap Up

It’s impossible to manage money perfectly. Occasionally, getting carried away is OK. However, if you discover you are spending more than is necessary, consider why this occurs. Think about previous impulsive purchases and work to limit them going forward. Additionally, spending on purpose makes you joyful and shields you from the guilt and regret that can occasionally accompany impulsive purchases.

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This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.


Amaka Chukwuma is a freelance content writer with a BA in linguistics. As a result of her insatiable curiosity, she writes in various B2C and B2B niches. Her favorite subject matter, however, is in the financial, health, and technological niches. She has contributed to publications like ButtonwoodTree and FinanceBuzz in the past. In addition to ghostwriting for brands like Welovenocode, Noah and Zoey, and Ohcleo, amongst others.  You can connect with her on Linkedin and Twitter.