Survey: 3 in 4 Americans make impulse purchases

By Ben Macioce - Associate Producer

Are you guilty of making impulse purchases?

Three out of four Americans have made impulse purchases, according to a new survey by, and mental state has a lot to do with it.

In the scientific telephone survey of 1,000 adult Americans, 75 percent said they had made an impulse purchase.  Of the impulse buyers, 16 percent said they spent $500 or more on the purchase and 10 percent spent $1,000 or more.

Those purchases came because we were excited (49 percent), bored (30 percent), sad (22 percent), angry (9 percent) or intoxicated (9 percent).

Among the survey's most provocative findings:

  • Men were much more likely to say they had bought while intoxicated, with 13 percent of men reporting a BWI, compared to 5 percent of women.
  • Women were twice as likely to report that sadness caused an impulse buy: 28 percent of women cited it as an underlying cause, compared to 14 percent of men.
  • The gender gap was also apparent in the cost of the impulse. Men were far more likely than women to spend more than $1,000 impulsively. Women were more likely than men to keep their most expensive unplanned purchases to under $25.
  • Generational differences were sharp: Four out of 10 senior citizens age 65 and older said they'd never made an impulse purchase. Only about 1 in 10 millennials age 18-29 could say the same.
  • Regrets? We don't have that many. Exactly half of those who made impulse purchases couldn't think of a single splurge they regretted.

"When it comes to shopping, many Americans don't think about the consequences," said Dr. Dorothy Sasmor, a Central Florida psychologist. "People can be impulsive -- 'I want what I want now' -- and don't really think through their decisions."

The survey, conducted by landline and cell phone during early November, asked American consumers about their "impulse purchases." These were defined as unplanned or unnecessary decisions to buy a product just before the purchase was made.

You can read the entire survey here.


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