Retail Therapy: Impulse Shopping Helping Americans Endure Coronavirus Lockdown

NEW YORK — Everyone has a go-to coping mechanism, and according to a new survey of 2,000 Americans, many are relying on impulse purchases to make it through this pandemic. In January 2020, the average U.S. citizen was spending $155.03 per month on impulse shopping. By the end of April, though, that average had increased by 18% to $182.98.

The research, commissioned by Slickdeals, also discovered that the average American has treated themselves to a $156.53 purchase since the pandemic started. Another 27% of respondents said they’ve spent over $200 on a single item since COVID-19 appeared.

If you’re wondering why so many people are spending money at a time like this, the answer is stress relief. Almost three in four (72%) respondents said that their coronavirus impulse buys have helped them feel better. Many (65%) even indicated that the right purchase can turn a bad day into a success.

Now, when one stops to consider the ideal impulse buy, clothes, gadgets, and hobbies usually come to mind. So, the fact that cleaning supplies (42%) were listed as the top purchase among respondents really drives home just how much the world has changed since COVID-19. Hand sanitizer (38%), toilet paper (35%), hand soap (32%), canned food (31%), and dish detergent (30%) were the next most popular buys. Not exactly the most exciting products.

Some are still buying more traditionally fun goods, though. Other impulse buys reported by participants included clothes (22%), video games (20%), books (17%), and headphones (18%). Also, 21% said they’ve recently bought themselves something they’ve had their eye on for awhile.

Impulse shopping is commonly looked at as a waste of money, more than half of the respondents challenged this notion by stating their quick buying decisions actually saved them money in the long-run. Moreover, 52% will always take advantage of a sale or deal than pay full price.

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What about impulse buys for other people? It doesn’t happen as often, but many will quickly take out their wallet if they see something a loved one or friend would enjoy. Respondents said they’ve made impulse purchases for their kids, friends, and significant others. Close to 20% even said they like spur of the moment shopping for their pet.

Due to the myriad ways COVID-19 has changed day-to-day routines, many respondents are spending money on services they never would have considered previously. For instance, 46% recently ordered groceries online for the first time ever, and 47% have purchased a new streaming service. Meanwhile, 35% have tried out a different food delivery service.

Looking ahead, 71% are planning to continue their online shopping habits long after the pandemic and lockdown restrictions have passed.

The survey was conducted by OnePoll.

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