Kiwis splash out online under the influence


New research claims a third of New Zealanders have shopped online boozed up, buying anything from pets to airfares

If you ask the people around you, everyone seems to have a confessional story about when they’ve succumbed to impulsive online shopping after one too many drinks.

One person I asked admitted to buying a border collie puppy after some beer-fuelled TradeMe browsing with her boyfriend at the time.

Someone else bought a treehouse ladder to hang out her window so she could get in and out of her room without having to make small talk with her flatmates.

Another spent an eye-watering $ 700 on an oversized wearable blanket – known as an Oodie; someone else bought tap shoes with the best intention of learning how to dance with them.

It’s clear these people aren’t the only ones who’ve splashed out where they’d rather save up. According to a survey of 1500 New Zealanders carried out by consumer comparison website Finder, more than one in three Kiwi adults (37 percent) admit to shopping under the influence.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, people in Generation Z are the worst drunk shoppers, with more than half (55 percent) having made a purchase under the influence, while Millennials (52 percent) are a close second.

The most popular items in Kiwis are splashing money on are food delivery, alcohol, and clothing. But some admitted to buying airline tickets and pets too.

This largely mirrors what is seen overseas. Finder data from the US tells us food tops the drunk shopping lists, followed by clothes, cigarettes, and gambling.

Just over a fifth (21 percent) of Americans surveyed admit to shopping under the influence, collectively spending about $ 21.6 billion in 2020/2021. The average spent on purchases steadily increased from 2017 before maxing out at a Covid lockdown-fueled $ 768 in 2020, and then dropping down to $ 423 in 2021.

Millennials in the US are most likely to be drunk shop (36.5 percent), followed by Generation Z at 29.7 percent.

Late night shopping meets tragicomedy

In 2019, the Sydney Morning Herald reported the online fashion retailer The Iconic saying customers aged between 18 and 24 were more likely than any other demographic to be late-night shopping. At midnight on a Friday and Saturday night the percentage of daily sales by young people in that age range is at least 30 percent higher than The Iconic’s average customer.

Calvin Klein receives its highest product views between the hours of 10pm and 6am, the Sydney Morning Herald said, while eBay gets about 15 percent of its Australian shoppers looking for makeup between 12am and 9am – not an insignificant chunk of traffic for the early hours of the morning.

For New Zealander Krissy Ralph, late-night online clothes shopping ventures after her weekly glass of wine or three turned out like a tragicomedy of Shakespearean proportions.

A few years ago, the 38-year-old from the Bay of Plenty had her end-of-week routine locked down like clockwork.

Every Friday she’d go over to a girlfriend’s house for a couple of hours. A bunch of her gal pals would sip on wine, catch up, and watch the latest drama-infused episode of The Bachelor unfold on the television.

While the group would be drinking and enjoying themselves, Ralph says the mood was always tame and she’d still have her wits about her when she’d head off.

“I’d get home and still be feeling pretty chipper and good about myself.”

“Some people might order groceries, others might get diamond rings,”
– Ananish Chaudhuri, professor of experimental economics

Too hyped to go to bed, Ralph would giddily make a beeline for the computer.

With her inhibitions down and her web browser wide open, she’d go bargain hunting on a range of mid-range fashion websites, generally chucking a dress or pair of shorts into her online shopping cart before checking out.

After her late night shopping sprees, she eagerly awaited the arrival of her new threads in the mail, but this rush of anticipation often came to a screeching halt.

The clothes never fit.

“I’d buy two or three items a week, and every single time I’d buy the clothes they’d be a size too small. I bought at least eight dresses on different occasions that were all too small, ”Ralph says.

Ralph laughs, albeit ruefully, about the old habit now.

“The tipsy version of me was definitely more optimistic than the realistic me.”

These stories of drunken shopping are no surprise to Ananish Chaudhuri, professor of experimental economics at the University of Auckland.

Chaudhuri says consumers are well-known to be irrational. Regardless of how much they make or what they buy, many people suffer from 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’s editor at large in New Zealand Angus Kidman says 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 you’ve done your research, he says.

“You could potentially save yourself some money in the process.”

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