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Brits prone to impulse buying

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24/01/2008

UK consumers’ love of impulse buying is costing them dear as they fail to shop around or read the small print on returning unwanted items, according to swiftcover.com.

In a nationwide survey of 600 UK consumers, swiftcover.com found that 91% made a regrettable impulse purchase last year. But that clearly hasn’t put them off –  as many as two thirds claimed to have made three or more impulse purchases last year, and as many as 15% of people impulse buy on a monthly basis. Six out of 10 people spent in excess of £100 last year on impulse purchases and 19% over £400.

But consumers’ scramble for a bargain often means that sensible shopping habits are discarded. Seven out of 10 people surveyed admitted that they don’t bother to read returns policies before buying, while nearly half have signed up to a service such as broadband or insurance without shopping around first. As a consequence, a quarter have struggled to return an unwanted item.

A fifth of people admitted that the reason they made impulse purchases was because it was easy with credit cards, while 26% agreed that it was the convenience of online shopping. Worryingly, 14% of people admitted that they sometimes don’t think about the price, with 15% only realising that they can’t really afford the item after they have made their purchase.

Tina Shortle, spokesperson for swiftcover.com, said: “Whether it’s a pair of killer heels, or the latest must-have gadget, it seems that we’re addicted to spending now and paying later.

“But that means that we’ve also dropped our guard when it comes to sensible habits like shopping around and as a result we are getting stung by shops’ returns policies.”

The research also identified the most impractical impulse purchases Brits have ever made. Half of all Brits have bought useless gadgets; a third admitted to purchasing clothing they never wore; 12% have purchased a bicycle never used and seven per cent have shelled out on unnecessary jewellery and accessories.

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