Fashion

The one bad shopping habit that costs us more than we think

Posted by
Sejal Kapadia Pocha
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It's exactly at this time of year when we see women on our commutes in chic sandals and beautiful culottes that we say to ourselves, "Oh, I'll just pop into the shops and see what's around".

Then we'll lock eyes with a gorgeous item and that's it, we're on our way to the till. Big mistake. New research claims that one impulse buy can cost us more than we realise. 

In a study of 400 supermarket shoppers (who were 80% women) by University of Notre Dame, those with a budget of around $40 (£25.40) per visit ended up spending $66.45 (£42.20).

“An unplanned selection increases the probability that the next selection will also be unplanned, and this effect grows stronger over the course of the trip,” says Gilbride, Lead researcher at the university. Succumbing to the temptation to buy, for example, a necklace or lipstick that you didn't originally intend to get can cue many other forgotten needs.

But researchers also found that the longer you spend in a shop the more likely you'll end up making that impulse purchase.  

The silver lining is that those who had a budget in mind were less likely to cave to an impulse buy. “Making and monitoring a mental budget (or using a shopping app) for unplanned purchases during a shopping trip provides the shopper flexibility...while avoiding an unexpectedly large overall expense,” Gilbride says.

Shopping

So, whether you're on a tight budget or looking to not spend too much, here's the key to being a money-savvy shopper:

1. Make a set list of what you want and need.

2. Set a strict budget.

3. Give yourself a time limit and spend no longer in the shop.

It sounds a lot like one particularly fun nineties game show...

Supermarket sweep

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Sejal Kapadia Pocha

Sejal Kapadia Pocha covers stories about everything from women’s issues to cult foods. She describes herself as a balance between Hermione and Luna Lovegood.

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