MAR 30, 2022

The Impacts of Impulsive Shopping: Why You Should Plan Your Purchases Instead

They say good judgment comes from experience. Only, lasting experiences are often the outcome of bad judgment.

Such is the logic behind impulse buying. You need to have done it enough times - and suffered the consequences - before you realize the error of your ways.

The last such survey undertaken on Canadian soil found the average Canuck spending over $3,700 annually on impulse buys. That was in 2012. Adjust that for 20% inflation since 2012, and you're looking at $4,440 in 2023. That's a pretty penny to part with on an impulse. The actual figure goes even higher when you consider the portion of that money that turns into interest-bleeding credit card debt.

Let's explore the expensive habit of impulse buying in more depth and understand what it costs you in terms of lost savings and budget overruns.

Impulse Shopping vs Planned Shopping

The difference between impulse shopping and planned shopping is essentially one of needs and wants.

Impulse shopping entails buying something you want but don't necessarily need. It implies pulling out your wallet on a whim, without sufficient aforethought or premeditation. That's why retailers love it!

All the billboards and neon signs in the world are put up with the express intent of appealing to your impulsive side. They succeed every time desire wins over necessity, thrift, logic, and common sense. Every impulse buy is in effect a deliberate self-goal that you score against prudence and often your own financial interest.

Planned shopping, on the other hand, is more deliberate, measured, and undertaken after careful consideration and comparison. It offers far more control over what you spend, how you spend it, and the cumulative value you get in return. Think of it as putting money aside for your true priorities, things that really make a difference to the quality of your life.

In the end, planned shopping makes all the difference between meaningful accomplishments that contribute to long-term happiness, and those that only inspire fleeting satisfaction.

What Leads to Impulse Shopping

The psychology behind impulse shopping is not difficult to pin down. Most of it is driven by basic cookie-jar temptation, although it can show up in more complex manifestations. The primary drivers of impulse buying are often:

  • Celebration and happiness: Shopping can be deeply gratifying, as every mall wanderer knows. According to Google Consumer Insights, every third purchase is made on impulse during the holiday season.
  • FOMO: The ‘fear of missing out' on a good bargain, deal, or discount also dictates a lot of impulsive shopping behavior. The idea of getting more bang for the buck can drive us to buy stuff that we neither need nor want.
  • Hoard mentality: The desire to stockpile stuff is a basic instinct among us. We often respond to marketing-driven artificial scarcity by hoarding items in quantities we don't reasonably need.

Considerations like age, gender, cultural background, market trends, mood, and income level are some of the factors that can contribute to impulse shopping.

The Impulse Shopping Landscape in Canada

More than half of all Canadians (52%) reported indulging in impulse shopping on social media in 2023. The figure is down from 63% in 2019 when the average spend per impulse purchase in Canada stood at almost $74, or $8.8 billion annually.

The current impulse buying spree is often in reaction to consumers seeing something interesting in their social media feeds. What's surprising is that this is happening amidst the ongoing cost-of-living crisis in the country and despite 75% of Canadians cutting back on impulse buys.

The question is, are we hooked on impulse shopping, and if yes, what is it costing us?

The True Cost of Impulse Shopping

Sadly, the after-effects of impulse shopping last long after you've gleefully swiped your card over the counter. Let's consider a few of them:

  • Burgeoning debt: Credit cards fuel a lot of impulse buying because they allow us to spend more money than we have. Routine impulse buying can stagger up massive amounts of debt and put our budgets in disarray. Let's say you have $5,000 in debt on your credit card with an APR of 20%. Paying it off in six months will cost you around $881 per month if you want to avoid interest. If, on the other hand, you make minimum payments of $150 per month, you'll end up paying over $1,000 in interest in just six months. It will also take you that much longer to pay off the entire debt.
  • Bad credit score: Impulse buys can wreak havoc on your repayment capacity and eventually hurt your credit score. This can turn into a vicious cycle since bad credit often translates to higher rates of interest on loans.
  • Loss of savings: Impulse buying can eat away at our savings potential and derail our long-term financial ambitions. It can make it harder to achieve meaningful goals like buying a home or financing an education.
  • Buyer's remorse: Some are riddled with it in even the most thoughtful of purchases. Buyer's remorse kindled by impulsive buying can be a powerful negative emotion affecting our mood and level of contentment.

How to Stay Away From Impulse Buying

Sometimes, all it takes to break a bad habit is to develop a good one instead. The Walletifai app is just that kind of good habit you need to cut back on impulse buys and rash spending.

Our smart financial management application uses machine learning (ML) to help you develop outstanding saving and spending habits. So you can reach your financial goals faster and enjoy complete peace of mind along the way!

Walletifai is a save-now-buy-later app that helps you plan future purchases. Instead of the instant gratification that may prove costly in the long run, our ML-backed tips put you in control of your shopping habits. We help you delay your gratification just enough for it to be more meaningful, thoughtful, and genuinely happiness-inspiring.

Get the Walletifai app today to plan your purchases and become a more responsible shopper.