Why is the siren call of impulse shopping so seductive?
Even though the impulse buy is typically framed as a rare accident, a whopping 68% of consumers decisions are made at the point of purchase. And did you know that if you happen to pick up and hold what you are considering buying, you make an emotional connection to that item that inspires ownership and you are then 60% more likely to buy the item.
Not only is placement of the impulse buy and whether you held the item or not influencing you but so is your mood. We have all heard of “retail therapy.” Retail therapy or shopping to boost one’s mood has been shown to boost mood when done in moderation. So a little retail therapy has been proven to increase dopamine levels, reduce stress and anxiety, and ease life transitions.
Once you have surrendered to that initial purchase, you have unwittingly opened the floodgates to buying even more during that shopping trip. A 2007 study conducted by researchers at Duke, Stanford, and Yale business schools coined this phenomena “the shopping momentum effect.” After you go through the deliberation process on the first item that you decide to purchase, you are now in a mind set to buy even more.
But like all highs, there will be a crash. It might come later that same evening, or when you receive your credit card statement, or when you find the shirt two years later with the tag still on. At these moments, you will be hit with the reminder of your poor choice. And even if we can financially afford this habit, feelings of guilt, shame, and wastefulness can weigh on us and extract a huge psychological cost.
The Mindful Shopper
Earn the Purchase--When you are being mindful of your shopping, you are typically planning ahead. Reframing purchases as something you "earn" rather than something you "get" adds a sense of appreciation and gratitude.
Willpower is a finite resource! Research has shown that willpower gets fatigued. Therefore, it is a good idea to try to identify the moments when your willpower may be low. For example, if you have abstained from several fast food places on the drive home from work, your self-control may be too tapped to pass up the huge sale at your favorite department store.
No check, please! Pay with cash. Studies have found that shoppers who pay with cash as opposed to paying by credit card experience a higher "pain of paying" since the loss of funds is immediate. When you charge it, you are also more likely to spend more for something than when you decide to pay with cash.
Distinguish Wants from Needs. Remember that most things are wants, very few things are actual needs. Put a desired item on hold and tell yourself that you will swing by tomorrow to buy it. If you return, you will know that you really want the item and will have less regret. Slowing down your shopping is a mindful way to shop.