Men Impulse-Buy When Drunk, Women When Sad

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Do we buy on impulse? Of course. About 75 percent of 1,000 adult consumers surveyed by admit as much. But who makes impulse purchases and when offers so insight into the difference between male and female shopping habits. Perhaps understanding who goes astray and when can help curtail some of that less-than-necessary holiday spending.

So, what did the survey show about impulse purchases -- defined those that are unplanned or unnecessary, with the decision made just prior to purchase? For one thing, men who impulse-buy do so in a bigger way than women, according to the survey. It is three times more likely, for instance, that a man will spend $1,000 or more on impulse than a woman.

Those free-spending men were particularly more likely to splurge on impulse when they were drunk. About three times as many men as women said they made an impulse purchase while "intoxicated."

What Made You Plunk Down the Money?

What led more women than men to make a spur-of-the-moment purchase? Being sad. Twice as many women as men said sadness pushed them to impulse spending.

"Making small impulse purchases every once in a while is probably no big deal and can even be fun," senior industry analyst Matt Schulz said. "However, if they're too costly or happen too often, they can devastate a budget, so be careful."

Given that, it shouldn't be too surprising that more than half of those who made these unplanned purchases -- whether motivated by alcohol or sadness or both -- regretted it, according to the survey.

The Bill -- and the Regret

And, it should be noted, depending on what that impulse drives you to buy, there's still the possibility of returning it. So, hang onto those receipts and, if you've regretted an impulse buy, check to see the terms of a return. This time of year, some returns are time-limited or have restocking fees. Some sales are considered "final."

It's highly unlikely that someone making an impulse buy would be noting those terms in advance. noted that some card issuers offer "guaranteed returns," so it's worth checking with your credit card issuer, if you made your impulse purchase by credit card, to see if that could help.

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