High Streets Initiative · 24 August 2017

Britain’s five favourite online shopping impulse purchases revealed

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Impulse buying contributes around £3.1bn a month to the economy 

From filling up the kitchen cupboard to adding to their shoe collection, the average UK shopper spends £47.84 on spontaneous purchases every month, new research has revealed.

With late night online browsing and irresistible deals being blamed for changing buying habits, an astonishing 91 per cent of the British public have been found to make impulse purchases, which overall contribute around £37bn a year to the economy, or £3.1bn a month.

Taking a closer look at Britain’s online shopping habits, a study from delivery firm Whistl has discovered that new clothes make up the bulk of online impulse purchases for most people, while food and drink and accessories for the home also make popular spontaneous buys.

In addition to these popular impulse purchases, the research uncovered some of the more unusual items the UK public liked to but on a whim, with £120 worth of cheese, 100 condoms and a castle for a pet cat amongst the country’s weirdest impulse purchases.

The tendency to make rash online shopping decisions late at night was found to be the result pf two key factors – poor sleep and alcohol. The research showed that 39 per cent of online shoppers made impulse purchases while awake late at night, and 24 per cent admitted they were more likely to hit the “buy” button after drinking.

Commenting on the research, marketing director at Whistle, Melanie Darvall, said: “Impulse buying has always played a key role in the retail mix and with the rise of online shopping, retailers must offer a seamless experience with easy navigation, fast payment and a choice of delivery options.

“Today, more and more Brits are used to being able to get hold of anything they want or need at the touch of a button. From adding an extra bottle of wine to your basket at the supermarket to splashing out on a new pair of heels that are 30 per cent off ‘just because’.”

Britain’s top five impulse purchases each month

(1) Clothes – 56 per cent

(2) Food and drink – 49 per cent

(3) Home accessories – 34 per cent

(4) Shoes – 27 per cent

(5) Jewellery – 22 per cent

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This article is part of a wider campaign called the High Streets Initiative, a new section of Business Advice championing independent and small retailers by identifying the issues that put Britain’s high streets under pressure. Visit our High Streets Initiative section to find out more.

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Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.

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