5 on Your Side

Impulse Buying COSTS us!

Posted October 19, 2009 2:07 p.m. EDT

Do you buy things on impulse? I’m usually pretty good at NOT doing that especially if I’m shopping by myself. But at certain places, and with certain people, I impulse buy. Wholesale clubs are my greatest weakness for impulse buying. I can’t seem to walk out without spending a couple hundred dollars. We always USE what we buy, but often—we don’t NEED what we buy. For example, at Costco over the weekend— they were selling a group of three pretty good sized large copper vases for just $15. I mean—that’s only 5 dollars a vase! You can’t get a copper vase at TJ Maxx for $5! And I LOVE copper! Plus, it goes with my house! What a deal! I could NOT pass it up!
Based on a new survey out today from ShopSmart magazine MANY women share my problem! It shows even the savviest shoppers fall off the wagon sometimes and buy items on impulse. 60 percent of the women who responded to the Consumer Reports poll ADMIT they bought something on a whim in the last year—and most-- 42 percent say they bought the item because the price was too good to pass up! The average cost of their most recent impulse purchase: $108! WOW! That’s a lot of money! It makes my $15 copper vases that much more justifiable, don’t you think?

Here’s a closer look at the survey results:  How do you compare?

•While 60 percent of women have made an impulse purchase in the past year, 39 percent of women have done so within the past MONTH.
•Fifteen percent of women admit they OFTEN buy things on impulse.

When Good Buys Go Bad
• Impulse shopping inevitably causes regrets. Over a third (35%) of women regretted an impulse purchase they made in the past twelve months.
• Few recoup money from a bad impulse purchase. Only a quarter (25%) of women said they returned the item, a quarter (25%) donated it or gave it away and a fifth (20%) ignored, hid or tossed it.

Why We Did It
• Price is a key driver of impulse purchases: 42 percent said they made their most recent impulse purchase because it was a great price or it was on sale.
• Women also sited irresistibility: 18 percent had to have it, 5 percent said they might need it someday and 4 percent were afraid it would not be there on their next visit.

What We Bought
• One quarter (25%) of respondents said clothing was their most recent impulse item, followed by food (14%), and accessories (6%). Other popular impulse items were electronics (5%), cosmetics (4%), and jewelry (2%).
The Scene of the Crime
• Thirty-three percent of respondents said their most recent impulse purchase was made at a mass merchandiser store such as Target or Walmart.
• More than a third (37%) of women said they have stayed away from a store in the past year to avoid making an impulse purchase.

About this Blog:

In addition to the stories you see on TV, Monica is always looking for ways to help consumers find deals and avoid fraud. She'll blog about what you need to know here.