What You Order at the Bar Can Determine What You Buy
As Cyber Monday stretches into Cyber Week and beyond, we face the reality that shopping online has become a steady sign of the times. Online shopping under the influence, however, can lead to a financial hangover.
As people sip and click from the comfort of their own homes, surveys show Americans are spending an increasing amount of money on alcohol-fueled, virtual shopping sprees.
Meg Oliver, in a March 2018 CBS New York article, notes that according to a Finder.com survey, 68 million people admitted to drunk shopping, spending approximately $447 per person, which is twice as much as was spent in the previous year.
What do they buy? Oliver shares the results: food, shoes, and clothes.
Other research indicates that choice of spirits influences amount of spending.
Drink Selection and Spending
Martha C. White, in a July 2018 article on NBC News, reports the link between drink selection and shopping selection. Citing a survey from rehab facility Archstone Recovery Center tracking what people buy on Amazon, she reports the results:
The biggest spenders were gin drinkers, spending an average of over $82. Whiskey drinkers spent half that amount, approximately $40. Beer drinkers were even thriftier, spending less than $40, while wine drinkers spent slightly more — red wine drinkers shelling out $42, with white wine drinkers spending $46
Spirited Shopping Selection
When are people buying?
White cites a 2016, study from shopping and style website Racked.com that analyzed data from an online clothing store Lyst, that found that their site received 48 percent more orders at 2 a.m. on a Friday night (which is Saturday morning, but likely represents people still up from Friday night—who have probably topped off their evening with a drink or two) as compared to that same that hour on a Monday night.
Adele Chapin, in a March 2016 article in Racked.com, notes that the Racked.com study revealed the shopping witching hour apparently starts after 1am. She notes that according to Lyst, the value of an average order at midnight is over 30 percent higher on a Friday night, as compared to a Monday night. And having entered the danger zone of buying after 1am, the average order value increases to over 40 percent
What did the Racked.com study show people are buying? Not essentials. Shoppers under the influence apparently have a penchant for luxury items — which they are willing to pay more for, in the moment.
Adele Chapin breaks down the fruits of buzzed buying in her article, "Drunk Shoppers Are Buying Pricey Lingerie and Heels." The Racked.com data showed that, for example, Friday-night lingerie purchases averaged $308, which was 140 percent higher than on Monday nights.
Shoe purchases, which Racked.com noted included platforms, heels, and sandals, are 165 percent higher.
Chapin also notes the data showed late night shoppers like dresses, showing that after midnight, dress sales are 320 percent higher on a Friday than they are on Monday.
One can imagine how retailers may exploit the penchant for wine-goggles.
Some high-end stores serve champagne as customers browse. It is no surprise there is also free champagne at art auctions, or free drinks for casino players. An online retailer who advertises a sale beginning at midnight might be capitalizing on study results as described above.
Why does this work?
Cocktails and Cognition
Research has long established the link between drinking and impaired cognition. A study by Timothy W. Friedman et al. (2011) found that cognition function can be impaired even at blood alcohol levels that are below the legal limit for drinking and driving.
When it comes to online buying, it is relevant that alcohol has also been shown to promote disinhibition. Kwan Woo Choi et al. (2018) define "Alcohol-induced disinhibition (AID)" as a "loss of restraint over some form of behavior after drinking alcohol regardless of its amount." Although their study focused on suicide, they note that AID is "characterized by an increase in the salience of reinforcers and/or a decrease in the ability to inhibit impulses after ingestion of alcohol."
Avoid a Shopping Hangover
Best practice — don't sip and click. This advice applies to drinking and shopping, Tweeting, posting, or anything else where compromised judgment can lead to impaired decision making.
Keeping your devices at bay when having a cocktail can also save you precious time in the morning — returning your under-the-influence impulse buys.
This post was originally published in Psychology Today.
Wendy L. Patrick is a career prosecutor, named the Ronald M. George Public Lawyer of the Year, and recognized by her peers as one of the Top Ten criminal attorneys in San Diego by the San Diego Daily Transcript. She has completed over 150 trials ranging from human trafficking, to domestic violence, to first-degree murder. She is President of the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals San Diego Chapter and an ATAP Certified Threat Manager. Dr. Patrick is a frequent media commentator with over 3,00 appearances including CNN, Fox News Channel, Newsmax, and many others. She is author of "Red Flags" (St. Martin´s Press), and co-author of the revised version of the New York Times bestseller "Reading People" (Random House). On a personal note, Dr. Patrick holds a purple belt in Shorin-Ryu karate, is a concert violinist with the La Jolla Symphony, and plays the electric violin with a rock band. To read more of her reports — Click Here Now.
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