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Americans Spend $45 Billion a Year Drunk Shopping

drunk shopping

$45 billion sounds like a large amount of money but when you hear that this is the amount spent by drunk Americans every year, you can only say that the madness is endless. Don’t get me wrong. Not all of these $45 billion is spent on alcohol alone. Someone who is intoxicated can buy anything either on brick and mortar stores or online. People who browse online classified ads like Craigslist and Shoppok are not all sober after all. Sometimes, it’s satisfying to browse eCommerce sites while drinking a few bottles of beers or wine - at least for many Americans.

What is Drunk Shopping and Why is it a Huge Industry?

A simple question needs a simple answer, but the result is massive spending when all are said and done - and accumulated. Drunk shopping is buying when someone is intoxicated, clear, and simple. 

According to a survey by The Hustle, 79% of people have made at least one drunk purchase. Marketers should be familiar, as the survey found that 86% of marketers have made an impulsive purchase.

Consumers who purchased online while intoxicated may be worth $45 billion in revenue per year, according to a survey of 2,000 alcohol-consuming Americans by The Hustle.

According to the survey—titled “The 2019 Drunk Shopping Census”—the average alcoholic customer spends $444 and tends to spend on clothing and shoes on Amazon (the platform of choice for 85% of all shoppers surveyed). The Hustle reports that 79% of people surveyed have made at least one purchase while under the influence of alcohol. The survey did not include purchases being made from the classified ads websites like Craigslist, Shoppok, and Gumtree but it is believed that the said websites and similar others also contribute to buying under the influence.

The Hustle says that 80% of women shop intoxicated compared with 78% of men. Millennials also drunk-shop more than baby boomers by 13%.

Forbes and Statista put together an infographic of states that spend the most on drunk shopping.

The most likely professions to drunk-buy are sports (94%), transport (92%), oil and energy (91%), recruiting (87%), and marketing (85%).

The least likely impulsive-shopping professions are writing (60%), art (64%), education (68%), computer engineering (68%), and retail (70%).

Online stores are already using alcoholic buyers to their advantage, according to The Hustle, as many post-late-night flash sales. The Hustle cites a quote from Gilt Groupe in The New York Times in 2011: “Post-bar, inhibitions can be impacted, and that can cause … healthy impulse buying.”

Do People Regret Shopping Drunk?

Most of the things a person has done while drunk are regrettable unless he can attest that he will do the same while sober. 

Not only do people doing purchases while intoxicated are waking up with headaches due to a hangover, but a financial hangover when their bank is empty is also a big problem. 

How to Avoid Drunk Shopping

Even if you are an alcoholic and cannot let the day pass without having a couple of beers, still there is hope to avoid this bad and financially-destructive habit. 

If you're regularly waking up to a (financial) hangover, consider these tips.

  1. Delete eCommerce apps from your phone. Online buys tend to be more indulgent when people buy using a touchscreen, like a phone or a tablet, found a recent study. To make it harder to overspend, remove the temptation by deleting these apps from your phone. If that feels like overkill, tools like App Detox or Flipd can help you restrict the time you spend on certain apps or lock your phone completely during a set period of time (say, 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. on Saturday). 
  2. Buy from retailers with a generous return policy. OK, so maybe you made it to your computer and found out your favorite store is having a FLASH SALE. Avoid buyer's remorse by buying from stores that have a good return policy — bonus if they have free shipping, too.
  3. Know your one-number budget. Sometimes, you just want to treat yourself. And if it fits within your budget, you can do so knowing your other financial priorities are taken care of. Having one number to track how much you can spend in a week can be the easy reminder you need to know, drunk or otherwise, whether that purchase is within reason.
  4. Delete your credit card information. To avoid spending while sauced, implement some of the same strategies you might use to dodge general impulse marketing, experts say. That means finding ways to add an extra step between looking at an item on your phone or computer and hitting the "Buy" button. Removing your saved credit card information from websites and shopping apps or disabling 1-Click Ordering from your Amazon account are ways to add that additional hurdle. "You want to make the barriers to entry harder," Madhok says. "If you have to get up and go get your wallet, then you'll say, 'Forget it.'"
  5. Consider return policies. Get in the habit of purchasing at stores with generous return policies such as Zappos or Neiman Marcus, Madhok says. If you can make that responsible decision in your inebriated state, then you'll at least be able to undo some of the financial damage of an unneeded purchase. Avoid stores such as eBay, where getting reimbursed is difficult to accomplish. Another method to increase the chances you can return an unwanted item is to use credit cards with return-friendly policies. For example, Madhok uses an American Express card with return protection, which claims to refund eligible purchases made on the card of up to $300 within 90 days (minus shipping and handling). Some Chase credit cards offer a similar return protection policy for qualified purchases of up to $250.
  6. Get help. Occasional boozy purchases may not be a problem. But if you find yourself routinely making unremembered spending decisions or drinking more than you'd like, seek professional help. A financial therapist may be able to help you work through situations surrounding your impulsive spending. Or consider getting treatment for drug or alcohol addiction if you need to take a more aggressive approach to recovery.
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