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Calls for retailers to offer more tools to control spending

Written by: Emma Lunn
The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute has warned that the Black Friday sales could leave many people with poor mental health at serious risk of financial harm.

The institute says retailers should offer consumers more tools to control their spending. It found that consumers with poor mental health are twice as likely than the wider population to have spent more than they can afford online, or to have purchased goods they don’t need.

The group’s research found that about 3 million people across the UK with mental health problems have struggled to control their spending during lockdown.

The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute is calling for retailers to give consumers the choice to opt out of ‘buy now pay later’ options, or to add a ‘cooling off’ period to their account before making purchases.

The charity is also calling on the government and regulators to make sure that consumer protection laws are enforced online and are fit for purpose in the 21st century, as well as for better regulation buy now pay later credit.

Helen Undy, chief executive of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, said: “Flash sales, Black Friday ‘deals’ and short-term offers can be hard to resist at the best of times. But with more of us struggling with poor mental health during lockdown and spending more time online, there’s a real risk that this year’s Black Friday sales could push many people into financial harm. A single day’s shopping spree can cause years of misery, especially for people already dealing with both money and mental health problems.

“That’s why we’re calling on retailers to take action to help customers stay in control, especially those struggling with their mental health. Simple steps like giving people the option to have a ‘cooling off period’ before making purchases, or to opt out of ‘buy-now-pay-later’ deals, could help people avoid serious financial harm now and in the weeks leading up to Christmas.”

Other research by The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute found that ‘pushy’ online retailers can exacerbate mental health problems.

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