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Impulse Buys on the Decline, Survey Shows

More shoppers resist making unplanned purchases.

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More impulse buys are being made for household necessities. PHOTOGRAPHY: JackF/iStock.com

Impulse buying by U.S. shoppers is down in 2023, according to an annual survey commissioned by Slickdeals and conducted by OnePoll. Specifically, their study of 2000 American impulse shoppers found that 38 percent have decreased their unplanned spending this year, as compared to 14 percent in 2022 and 16 percent in 2021.

The number of impulse purchases per month also saw a dip this year, with the average respondent making just six impulse purchases per month. That’s down from 12 purchases per month both in 2022 and 2021 and nine per month in 2020.

Respondents are also spending less overall on impulse purchases. The average person is only spending $151 impulsively per month, down from previous years ($314 in 2022, $276 in 2021 and $183 in 2020).

Seventy-seven percent have been conscientious about their budget this year because of inflation — 39 percent said they spend more impulsively on necessities than luxuries (19 percent). The most common impulse shopping categories this year are clothing (55 percent), food and groceries (50 percent) and household items (42 percent).

Roughly a third (35 percent) said some of their impulse buys were done to escape the feeling of FOMO, a steep decrease from 2022, where 67 percent made purchases to be part of the “in” crowd.

“With shoppers stating that they are more likely to make impulse purchases on necessities than luxuries, while simultaneously reporting a decrease in impulse spending, we may be seeing a shift in how consumers define an impulse purchase,” said Vitaly Pecharsky, head of deals for Slickdeals. “Shopping opportunistically when there’s a sale on something you need like toilet paper or pantry snacks can ultimately save you money in the long run.”

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