Retail Therapy: Impulse Shopping Helping Americans Endure Coronavirus Lockdown

NEW YORK — Everyone has a go-to coping mechanism, and according to a new survey of 2,000 Americans, many are relying on impulse purchases to make it through this pandemic. In January 2020, the average U.S. citizen was spending $155.03 per month on impulse shopping. By the end of April, though, that average had increased by 18% to $182.98.

The research, commissioned by Slickdeals, also discovered that the average American has treated themselves to a $156.53 purchase since the pandemic started. Another 27% of respondents said they’ve spent over $200 on a single item since COVID-19 appeared.

If you’re wondering why so many people are spending money at a time like this, the answer is stress relief. Almost three in four (72%) respondents said that their coronavirus impulse buys have helped them feel better. Many (65%) even indicated that the right purchase can turn a bad day into a success.

Now, when one stops to consider the ideal impulse buy, clothes, gadgets, and hobbies usually come to mind. So, the fact that cleaning supplies (42%) were listed as the top purchase among respondents really drives home just how much the world has changed since COVID-19. Hand sanitizer (38%), toilet paper (35%), hand soap (32%), canned food (31%), and dish detergent (30%) were the next most popular buys. Not exactly the most exciting products.

Some are still buying more traditionally fun goods, though. Other impulse buys reported by participants included clothes (22%), video games (20%), books (17%), and headphones (18%). Also, 21% said they’ve recently bought themselves something they’ve had their eye on for awhile.

Impulse shopping is commonly looked at as a waste of money, more than half of the respondents challenged this notion by stating their quick buying decisions actually saved them money in the long-run. Moreover, 52% will always take advantage of a sale or deal than pay full price.


What about impulse buys for other people? It doesn’t happen as often, but many will quickly take out their wallet if they see something a loved one or friend would enjoy. Respondents said they’ve made impulse purchases for their kids, friends, and significant others. Close to 20% even said they like spur of the moment shopping for their pet.

Due to the myriad ways COVID-19 has changed day-to-day routines, many respondents are spending money on services they never would have considered previously. For instance, 46% recently ordered groceries online for the first time ever, and 47% have purchased a new streaming service. Meanwhile, 35% have tried out a different food delivery service.

Looking ahead, 71% are planning to continue their online shopping habits long after the pandemic and lockdown restrictions have passed.

The survey was conducted by OnePoll.

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John Anderer

Born blue in the face, John has been writing professionally for over a decade and covering the latest scientific research for StudyFinds since 2019. His work has been featured by Business Insider, Eat This Not That!, MSN, Ladders, and Yahoo!

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