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Guess which gender spends more on impulse

You make lists, clip coupons and comparison shop on the Internet – and yet, you still can’t resist the urge to splurge. You’re not alone.

Three out of four adults in this country make impulse purchases, according to a new survey by CreditCards.com. And in many cases, these unplanned purchases are real budget busters.

MIKE SEGAR / Today
Three out of four adults in this country make impulse purchases, according to a new survey. But men more often spend serious money on them.

Nearly one in three (16 percent) of the impulse buyers in this survey said they had spent $500 or more on such a purchase, 10 percent spent $1,000 or more.

Why do we do this?

Respondents said they typically buy impulsively when they are excited, bored or sad. The survey showed gender may also play a role.

“We found that men and women impulse shop about the same amount, but the way they feel and how much they spend when they do it are different,” said CreditCards.com senior analyst Matt Schulz.

  • Men were significantly more likely than women to spend serious money on that unplanned purchase. While just seven percent of the women said they had spent $500 or more, 21 percent of the men did. Men also made more impulse purchases of $1,000 or more.
  • Women tend to keep their impulse purchases small, under $25.
  • Men are more than twice as likely to make an impulse purchase when they’re intoxicated.
  • Women are twice as likely to buy impulsively when they are sad.
  • Women are more likely to regret making an impulse purchase: 52 percent of the women vs. 46 percent of the men said they experienced buyer’s remorse at one time or another.

While the location of the purchase doesn’t seem to matter – survey respondents said they were as likely to make an impulse purchase online as in-person – age and education does seem to make a difference.

  • Nearly 90 percent of the Millennials said they’d made an impulse purchase, compared to just 56 percent of the seniors.
  • College graduates were also more likely to make spur-of-the-moment purchases (86 percent) than non-college graduates (64 percent).

Retailers love impulse shopping. Store layouts are designed to get you to buy things that you really don’t need.

“We would like to think that we make rational decisions, but we’re still impulsive and irrational,” said Dr. Martha Doran, an associate professor in the College of Business Administration at San Diego State University. “We are much more geared to doing things we don’t think through than we’d like to believe. It’s just our basic human nature and it’s easily exploited by marketers.”

Making a small impulse purchase every now and then can be fun and exciting. You just need to be careful that it doesn’t get the best of you.

“If they’re too costly or happen too often, they can devastate your budget,” Schulz warns.

Herb Weisbaum is The ConsumerMan. Follow him on Facebook and Twitteror visit The ConsumerMan website.

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