A new study claims a third of New Zealanders have shopped online drunk, buying anything from pets to plane tickets
If you ask the people around you, everyone seems to have a confessional story of when they succumbed to impulse shopping online after one drink too many.
One person I asked admitted to buying a border collie puppy after browsing TradeMe with her boyfriend at the time.
Someone else bought a treehouse ladder to hang her window on so she could get in and out of her room without having to chat with her roommates.
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Another spent $700 on an oversized wearable blanket – known as Oodie; someone else bought tap shoes with the best intention of learning to dance with them.
It is clear that these people are not the only ones who have spent where they preferred to save. According to a survey of 1,500 New Zealanders by consumer comparison site Finder, more than one in three Kiwi adults (37%) admit to shopping under the influence.
Unsurprisingly, Gen Zers are the worst drunk shoppers, with more than half (55%) having made a purchase under the influence, while millennials (52%) are a close second.
The most popular items Kiwis spend money on are food delivery, alcohol, and clothing. But some admitted to buying plane tickets and pets too.
This largely reflects what is seen abroad. US Finder data tells us that food tops drunk shopping lists, followed by clothing, cigarettes and gambling.
Just over a fifth (21%) of Americans surveyed admit to shopping under the influence, collectively spending around $21.6 billion in 2020/2021. Average shopping spend rose steadily from 2017 before peaking at $768 fueled by the Covid lockdown in 2020, then dropping to $423 in 2021.
Millennials in the US are most likely to shop while intoxicated (36.5%), followed by Gen Z at 29.7%.
Late night shopping meets tragicomedy
In 2019, the Sydney Morning Herald online fashion retailer The Iconic reported, saying shoppers aged 18 to 24 were more likely than any other demographic to shop late at night. At midnight on Friday and Saturday nights, the percentage of daily sales for young people in this age group is at least 30% higher than that of the average customer of The Iconic.
Calvin Klein receives its highest product views between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., the Sydney Morning Herald said, while eBay receives around 15% of its Australian shoppers looking for makeup between midnight and 9 a.m. – not an insignificant part of the traffic for the early hours of the morning.
For New Zealander Krissy Ralph, late-night online clothing shopping after her weekly drink or three of wine turned out to be a tragicomedy of Shakespearean proportions.
A few years ago, the 38-year-old from the Bay of Plenty had her weekend routine locked down like clockwork.
Every Friday, she went to a friend’s house for a few hours. A group of her girlfriends were sipping wine, catching up and watching the dramatic latest episode of The single person unfold on television.
While the band was drinking and having fun
“I would come home and still feel good about myself.” Ralph says the vibe was always subdued and she always had a cool head when she left.
Too excited to go to bed, Ralph rushed to the computer.
With her inhibitions lowered and her web browser wide open, she would hunt for bargains on a range of mid-range fashion websites, usually tossing a dress or shorts into her online shopping cart before checking out. .
After her nightly shopping sprees, she eagerly awaited the arrival of her new sons in the mail, but that rush of anticipation often came to a screeching halt.
Clothes never fit.
“I was buying two or three items a week, and every time I bought the clothes, they were a size too small. I bought at least eight dresses on different occasions that were all too small,” says Ralph.
Ralph laughs, albeit sadly, at the old habit now.
“The drunk version of me was definitely more optimistic than the realistic me.”
These stories of drunken shopping come as no surprise to Ananish Chaudhuri, professor of experimental economics at the University of Auckland.
Chaudhuri says consumers are notorious for being irrational. Regardless of what they earn or buy, many people suffer from a lack of impulse control to some degree.
“Some people might order groceries, others might get diamond rings,” he says. Add alcohol into the mix and the result is not surprising.
Finder New Zealand editor Angus Kidman said a night of shopping under the influence can lead to “buyers’ remorse”.
Just as it’s best to avoid the supermarket if you’re hungry, it’s best to avoid online shopping altogether unless you know exactly what you want and have done your research, he says.
“You could potentially save yourself some money in the process.”