The problem with impulse spending

78.2% of Brits have fallen prey to impulsive online shopping.

Noi Rotstein

by , Insights & Marketing Executive

Thanks to the digital age, we now have more ways to shop than ever before. However, such convenience and choice comes with the potential to fall prey to spending more than we initially intended. According to a recent finder.com/uk survey, 78.2% of British adults have succumbed to impulsive online shopping, with each person spending on average £32.69 per session. That equates to a whopping £1.06 billion spend.

In July 2017, we commissioned a study of 2,035 Brits, conducted by Mortar London, to learn more about impulsive shopping habits. Of those surveyed who make impulsive purchases, regret is their number one post-shopping issue. It’s apparent that we need more than simple willpower to say ‘no’ to unnecessary spending.

How often do we impulse spend?

The majority of impulsive online shoppers make spontaneous purchases at least once a month (64.9%). Some people have a serious problem, with 7.1% admitting to impulsive shopping every day! More than 1 in 5 (22.9%) say they make impulsive purchases every week, while 18.1% do so every 3 months.

Frequency of impulsive online purchases Proportion of impulsive online shoppers
Daily 7.1%
Weekly 22.9%
Monthly 34.9%
Every 3 months 18.1%
Every 6 months 9.9%
Every year 4.1%
Every few years 3.0%

Source: finder.com/uk

A demographic breakdown of how much we’re spending

Gender

Interestingly, more men (66.4%) admitted to impulsive online spending than women (63.4%). Men are also more likely to have a daily impulsive shopping habit (9.5%) compared to women (4.8%). Men spend more money on their online impulsive shopping per session than women, with average purchases sitting at £36.97, compared to £28.61 for the ladies.

Frequency of impulsive online purchases Female Male
Daily 4.8% 9.5%
Weekly 23.4% 22.4%
Monthly 35.2% 34.9%
Every 3 months 19.8% 16.3%
Every 6 months 10.6% 9.2%
Every year 3.8% 4.4%
Every few years 2.4% 3.7%

Source: finder.com/uk

Generation

Millennials admit to impulse spending more than any other generation, with 18.7% of them likely to have a daily online shopping habit, followed by 5.1% of Gen X and 1.8% of Baby Boomers. Millennials are also spending the most per session in their online impulse shop, sitting at an average of £38.33, followed by Baby Boomers at £31.25 and Gen Xers at £29.42.

Those with a daily impulsive shopping habit by generation

Bar chart showing impulse shopping by generation. Millennials top the chart with 18.7%, followed by Gen X at 5.1% and Baby Boomers at 1.8%.

Region

Those residing in the North East lead the way for daily online impulse buys (16.3%), followed by Londoners (11.5%) and those in the East Midlands (8.3%). Of those shopping up a storm, Londoners are spending the most online per session on average (£49.84), followed by those in the West Midlands (£37.72) and the North East (£37.31).

What do we experience post-impulse splurge?

If you feel a sense of regret after splurging, you’re not alone! In fact, more than 1 in 4 (29.3%) of us guilty of an impulsive purchase admit to this after a session. While the majority had a feeling of contentment (38.8%), nearly 2 in 5 of us experience indifference (35.0%), over 1 in 20 have fought with a spouse or family members (6.7%) and have felt as though we haven’t had enough funds for something we really needed (6.5%), such as rent, school fees, or loan repayments.

Experiences after an impulse purchase session

Graph showing the impulse purchasing experience. 38.8% experience content but 29.3% experience regret.

Online vs. in store: Where are we splurging the most?

Despite the popularity of online shopping, impulsive in-store purchases still lead the way for now, with 84.8% of Brits admitting to splurging in store compared to the 78.2% at an online checkout. On average, Brits say farewell to £31.46 per in-store impulsive purchase, which is actually slightly less than they do per online session, which comes in at £32.69. As online retailers become more competitive and convenient, we anticipate this trend will shift in the very near future, seeing a greater gap between amount spent and number of Brits favouring the online checkout.

Impulse purchasing online vs. in-store

Image showing the difference between impulse shopping online vs. in-store. 78.2% is completed online.

Enter Icebox, an innovative, easy-to-use tool that can help you curb your impulse purchases. Developed and released by finder.com/uk, the free Icebox Chrome extension aims to reduce the feelings of regret that we experience as a result of impulse spending, encouraging you to put your purchases on ice for up to 30 days.

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