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STUDY: Americans Say Impulsive Shopping Is Helping Them Through Coronavirus Lockdown (Video)

The COVID-19 pandemic has Americans shopping more impulsively, according to new research.

In January of 2020, before the pandemic, the average American was found to spend $155.03 monthly on impulse buys.

But a new poll that ran in April, during the pandemic, found that number jumped up 18% to $182.98.

The polls of 2,000 Americans, both commissioned by Slickdeals and conducted by OnePoll, also found that the pandemic has quite an effect on our spending habits.

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The most recent survey found that the average American has dropped $156.53 on a single big-ticket item since the pandemic began, with 27% having dropped more than $200 on one big item.

Interestingly, the new study showed that shopping has an effect on our mood through these troubled times.

According to the results, nearly three in four of those polled (72%) say that buying something impulsively during the pandemic has positively affected their mood.

Two in three respondents (65%) say that buying something impulsively can instantly turn their bad day around, slightly above the 63% reported in the January survey.

Unsurprisingly, the top item Americans have bought impulsively was found to be cleaning supplies, closely followed by hand sanitizer and toilet paper.

Hand soap, dish detergent and canned food all scored high marks, as well.

But it isn’t all “end of days” items going through our online shopping carts — nearly one in four say they’ve bought themselves a treat that they’ve had their eye on for a while.

Nearly one in five have picked up a shiny new video game console impulsively, with 22% picking up some clothing and 18% splurging on a home improvement.

In fact, impulse spending doesn’t mean just blowing your paycheck on random luxury items. According to the results, more than half of Americans polled credit impulse buying with actually saving them money in the long run.

When impulsively shopping, more respondents (52%) said they typically take advantage of a deal rather than buying at retail price.

“In these uncertain times, consumers are looking to stretch their dollars even further, and impulse purchasing can actually serve as a tool to do so,” said Slickdeals CEO Josh Meyers. “While someone may not plan to buy laundry detergent or groceries on a given day, stocking up on these everyday items when there’s a great deal available can help your budget. As such, impulse spending can be associated with saving money in the long-run as opposed to being wasteful.”

Impulse buying can also be an act of altruism. While the top person we do impulse buy for is ourselves, we also shop on compulsion when we come across items we think people in our lives might enjoy.

Getting things for our children was one of the top responses, with gifts for friends, and our partner also scoring high marks. Nearly one in five say they often impulse spend on their pet.

Since the pandemic began, 46% say they’ve ordered online groceries for the first time, with 47% trying a new streaming service and 35% being a first-time customer with a restaurant delivery app.

Nearly three in four (71 percent) say that they plan to continue the increased rate of online shopping even after the stay-at-home order is lifted for them.

“At Slickdeals, we’ve assembled the largest community of super savvy shoppers and we’ve created a platform for them to share timely information about finding the best deals, on the best products, at optimal times throughout the year,” added Meyers. “More than ever, the Slickdeals community is working together to identify the best prices, tips and even hard-to-find inventory to better cope with the rapidly changing world in which we now find ourselves.”


Cleaning supplies 42%
Hand sanitizer 38%
Toilet paper 35%
Hand soap 32%
Canned food 31%
Dish detergent 30%
Clothing 22%
A treat you’ve had your eye on for a while 21%
Video games 20%
Home improvement 18%
Headphones 18%
Video game console 17%
Books 17%
Shoes 17%
School supplies 16%


1. Food/groceries 47%
2. Clothing 38%
3. Household items 38%
4. Technology 27%
5. Coffee 27%
6. Vehicles 25%
7. Takeout 23%
8. Shoes 23%
9. Books 22%
10. Video games 20%