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Longer nights, TV shows and rise of on-demand services fuel 'Vampire Economy'

Thu Oct 27 04:40:00 EDT 2016

  • One in three Brits now spend more money shopping online at night, compared to five years ago
  • Nocturnal shoppers spend 42 minutes extra per week browsing in the small hours once the clocks go back, with 10:18pm cited as the peak time to purchase 
  • Four in ten of those buy clothes, jewellery and shoes overnight, while two in ten purchase pizza to satisfy their late-night cravings
  • TV shows such as The Great British Bake Off can lead to a spike in demand amongst shoppers for certain featured products 
  • Pharmacy items top list of products late-night shoppers hope to order in the future, followed by food at literally any time of night

The nation’s love for shopping anytime, anywhere is fuelling a ‘Vampire Economy’ – which is boosted when the clocks go back – with one in three (33 per cent) Brits saying they now spend more money shopping online at night than they did five years ago.

The research finds that as nights draw in, night time shoppers spend on average 2 hours 12 minutes browsing after dark each week, up from 1 hour 30 minutes during the summer. According to Barclaycard, which processes nearly half the nation’s credit and debit card transactions and has been at the heart of British shopping for more than 50 years, 10:18pm is the peak time to purchase.

With the increasing availability of fast fashion at the tap of an app and changing eating patterns, it’s no surprise that clothing and food are amongst the most popular purchases in night-time shopping baskets – those filled between 9pm and 5am:


Most popular items bought online at night

Percentage of consumers who buy the items

Average weekly spend


Clothes, jewellery and shoes




Presents for friends and family












Chinese food




Holiday or weekend break flights




Indian food




Train tickets




TV shows/films/subscription services




Make up and beauty products



The Vampire Economy has been driven, in part, by the growth of on-demand delivery services such as Deliveroo, Hungry House and Amazon Prime, which have made it easier to purchase items whenever, wherever. This has turned us into a nation of impulse buyers – with one in five (22 per cent) consumers saying that they buy items online at night because they feel like treating themselves.

A number of these purchases are influenced by primetime TV shows, with one in ten of us impulsively buying an item we’ve seen on the telly – such as the proving drawers made famous by The Great British Bake Off or dance classes inspired by Strictly Come Dancing. One in five (18 per cent) have bought a foodie must-have such as a spiralizer or food mixer, whilst the long nights and winter weather have spurred 14 per cent of us to book a holiday on a whim.

The Vampire Economy looks set to continue with one in five (18 per cent) consumers wanting pharmacy items delivered to them in the small hours, and the same number pining for the day they can order a takeaway literally any time of the night. Over one in ten of us (14 per cent) wish they could have their preferred snack delivered at any time – such as an emergency chocolate or ice cream.

Paul Lockstone, Managing Director at Barclaycard, said:

“The Vampire Economy has arisen from Britons’ love of bed time browsing, and increasing numbers of us are being drawn onto the web as a way of satisfying our craving for a midnight madras or that spur-of-the-moment spiralizer in the small hours. With more and more companies recognising the importance of the graveyard shift, and offering late night delivery for our nation of night owls, this trend is only set to grow.”