• Stressed men are four times more likely to purchase beer and twice as likely to buy electrical goods than the opposite sex
  • Women who are stress spending are three times more likely to splash their cash on clothes
  • Stress and boredom found to be ‘most expensive’ psychological
    triggers – costing individuals up to £1,250 per year

MoneySuperMarket today reveals the findings of a ground-breaking neurological study into the psychology of spending that reveals how sad, stressed or bored shoppers are nearly 15 per cent more likely to overspend than those who are happy.

The research found that a shopping trip undertaken while in a heightened emotional state is likely to set shoppers back £100 more than they’d usually spend each month.

And forty-six per cent of Brits have found themselves compelled to splurge after a stressful event in their lives, with one in six hitting the shops after a stressful day at work and one in twelve working out their relationship frustrations with some retail therapy.

Brits are most likely to splash the cash on treat foods, clothes and takeaway when they’re feeling down in the dumps.

The link between stress and physical health is well documented, but what hasn’t been appreciated until now is the connection between emotional wellbeing and consumer behaviour – and the role this plays in our lives.

Just as the traditional Body Mass Index is used to measure whether you’re a healthy  weight, participants were scored between 18.5 and 40, depending on their level of spending. Participants who scored between 18.5 and 24.9 fell into a ‘healthy range’, meaning their shopping habits aren’t overly affected by their mood.

• The most popular items for stressed spenders to splurge on were snack food (30 per cent), new clothing (20 per cent) and takeaways (17 per cent).

• Stressed men are four times more likely to purchase beer and twice as likely to buy electrical goods than the opposite sex – while women stress spending are three times more likely to splash their cash on clothes.

• Contactless culture has had an impact, with two thirds (63 per cent) of all emotional purchases made in store put on credit or debit cards. Paying with cash rather than cards encouraged more than half (58.6 per cent) to seriously reconsider their purchases.

• Almost half (41.4 per cent) of those aged between 18-35 splurge more on emotional purchases because they feel traditional financial goals – such as buying a house or saving enough for a comfortable retirement – are impossibly out of reach.

• Those aged between 24-35 were by far the most likely to make impulse purchases based on their emotion, spending 135 per cent more often than those aged 55+.

• While the experiment found that happiness decreased the likelihood of spending, the attitudinal research showed that this was the emotion people thought would most cause them to spend– revealing a distinct gap between perception and behaviour.

Dr David Lewis, Chartered Psychologist at Mindlab, said: “This research challenges conventional wisdom by showing that negative emotions, rather than feelings of wellbeing, are the most powerful drivers for overspending. Being aware of behavioural triggers is the first step in taking control, which is why we believe the MoneySuperMarket Buying Mood Index is an important and eye-opening way for every consumer to explore their relationship with what we spend and why.”

Top 10 items people purchase when they’re feeling stressed:

  1. Snack Food (30%)
  2. Clothes (20%)
  3. Takeaway (17%)
  4. Wine (16%)
  5. Beer (13%)
  6. Going to a restaurant (11%)
  7. Books (10%)
  8. Spirits (7%)
  9. Music (7%)
  10. Shoes (6%)