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“Spontaneous spenders”: British shoppers regret impulse sales purchases

Tue Jan 31 07:30:00 EST 2017

  • Six in 10 Brits admit to being “spontaneous spenders” who can’t resist buying items on impulse when an offer is available
  • British sales shoppers spent an average of £183 during the recent festive discount period but have returned, or plan to return, 70 per cent of their total spend
  • Top three impulse purchases made in the post-Christmas sales were clothes (53 per cent), shoes (22 per cent) and electronics (16 per cent)
  • Most Brits are projected to miss the returns deadline for unwanted items, however, with six in ten revealing they are unsure when the window for a refund ends

As the January sales period draws to a close new research from Barclaycard, which sees nearly half of all the nation’s credit and debit card transactions, reveals that six in ten Brits (59 per cent) don’t just hunt out bargains, but take a punt on impulse purchases which they later come to regret.

Demonstrating the extent of impulse buying behaviour, the findings show that sales shoppers have splashed out an average of £183 each during the festive discount period*, but have returned, or still plan to return, £128 worth of goods – working out as 70 per cent of their total spend.

In fact, these “spontaneous spenders” can’t resist the temptation of a promotion or special offer – even if it’s for something they don’t really need – with over three in 10 shoppers (36 per cent) admitting that items bought during a discount end up being used or worn “less than expected” or even “hardly ever at all”.

More than half (53 per cent) of fashion conscious consumers admit to impulse buying clothes in the recent sales**, with 22 per cent treating themselves to shoes, followed by electronics (16 per cent), accessories (15 per cent), cosmetics (13 per cent) and home furnishings (13 per cent).

Almost one in five sales shoppers (17 per cent) say they regret some or all of their sales purchases, with the main reasons cited as: buying items which did not fit (30 per cent), receiving online purchases which looked different when they arrived (24 per cent) and later deciding items they liked but didn’t try on didn’t suit them (22 per cent).

Yet shoppers who are thinking about returning items bought in the sale need to do their research as almost two-thirds (61 per cent) admitted to not knowing when the returns window closes – meaning that many bargain punters risk being left out of pocket for items they won’t end up using.

While traditionally Boxing Day sees crowds flock to the high street and online in a bid to grab a deal, this year Barclaycard data shows that Friday December 30th 2016 was the busiest day for end of year sales shopping. This bumper day of retail saw the number of transactions increase by 23 per cent compared to the same day in 2015, as shoppers hit the sales before the weekend’s New Year’s celebrations began.

Sharon Manikon, Customer Solutions Managing Director at Barclaycard said:

“Sales can be an inviting time for people to indulge in a quick purchase, particularly for items coveted before a reduction – which can be a very cost effective way to shop. But it can be a good idea to set a budget in advance, because as our data shows, many shoppers can’t resist an offer or promotion and end up impulse-buying items which they don’t really need, and later come to regret.

“Retailers apply different policies when it comes to allowing shoppers to return sale items for a refund – and some also mandate that discounted goods are non-refundable or only eligible for a gift note or exchange. While impulse shopping can be fun, especially when big savings are made, shoppers should make sure they check returns policies before they part with their cash or else they risk losing more money than they thought they’d save!”


For more information please contact Chloe Wilkinson, PR Manager, Barclaycard, on 020 3555 4036 / 07469 031 300 or chloe.wilkinson@barclaycard.co.uk

* The festive sales period covers Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the post-Christmas sales
** Data relates to the sales period starting on December 25 and running throughout January

The consumer research was conducted by Opinium who carried out 1,023 online interviews (23rd-24th January 2017) with UK adults who shopped in the 2016 festive sales.

A further sample was conducted by Opinium who carried out 2,001 online interviews (26th-27th January 2017) with a nationally representative sample of UK adults.