What Americans Are Impulse Buying Right Now

Front Door of House with Stack of Delivery Boxes from Online Ordering and E-commerce.
Jennifer J Taylor / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Many of us have had those moments jokingly dubbed “Amazon-esia,” where we make late night purchases online only to wake up to packages on our doorstep and forget what’s inside. Or perhaps you’ve ordered so much that when those boxes arrive, you’ve lost track of what you ordered. If you feel like it’s happening even more now than during the pandemic, you could be right. And you’re not alone.

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A new survey of 2,000 American online shoppers, commissioned by Slickdeals and conducted by OnePoll, found that the average American will make an average of 12 impulse purchases, spending an average of $276 per month. That night-time shopping affliction is real, as well. The survey found that most purchases (two-thirds) take place on our phones and in bed.

As people collect stimulus check deposits and tax refunds, combined with a heightened sense of economic security as businesses begin to open up again, impulse spending is up from the 2020 average of $183 per month. But we’re largely still buying the same things, the study says:

  • Food/groceries (48%)
  • Household items (42%)
  • Clothing (40%)
  • Coffee (33%)
  • Toys (29%)

Supply chain issues and shipping challenges have also changed the way some Americans feel about buying online. This year only 67% say they would forego a purchase if they had to pay for shipping, while last year 75% said they would skip a purchase.

“The pandemic created significant challenges for global supply chains that increased consumer demand in a variety of sectors,” said Ryan Tronier, senior personal finance editor for Slickdeals in a press release. “Our past research indicated that at the start of the pandemic, consumers reported panic buying household goods such as toilet paper and cleaning supplies and our internal user data indicated that people were spending more on large purchases such as furniture, home improvement and technology. As such, it’s not surprising that this survey showed an increase in the frequency and dollar amount of impulse shopping.”

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With gas prices rising and continuing supply chain challenges that forecast potential shortages of items ranging from hot dogs to bacon, according to a Business Insider report, buying on impulse when you see the things you want and need at a price you want, it makes sense to stock up – in reasonable quantities, of course, to leave enough for other shoppers, too.

“Contrary to conventional wisdom, our research continues to show that impulse spending can be associated with saving money,” Tronier said. “[E]ven if you weren’t planning to buy everyday items such as laundry detergent or coffee at a given time, stocking up when there’s a great price can ultimately help your budget.”

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