Shoppers spent an average of £183 during the recent sales, Barclaycard reports


As the January sales period draws to a close new research from Barclaycard, which sees nearly half of all the nation’s credit and debit card transactions, reveals that six in ten Brits (59%) don’t just hunt out bargains, but take a punt on impulse purchases which they later come to regret.

Demonstrating the extent of impulse buying behaviour, the findings show that sales shoppers have splashed out an average of £183 each during the festive discount period, but have returned, or still plan to return, £128 worth of goods – working out as 70% of their total spend.

In fact, these “spontaneous spenders” can’t resist the temptation of a promotion or special offer – even if it’s for something they don’t really need – with over three in 10 shoppers (36%) admitting that items bought during a discount end up being used or worn “less than expected” or even “hardly ever at all”.

More than half (53%) of fashion conscious consumers admit to impulse buying clothes in the recent sales, with 22% treating themselves to shoes, followed by electronics (16%), accessories (15%), cosmetics (13%) and home furnishings (13%).

Almost one in five sales shoppers (17%) say they regret some or all of their sales purchases, with the main reasons cited as: buying items which did not fit (30%), receiving online purchases which looked different when they arrived (24%) and later deciding items they liked but didn’t try on didn’t suit them (22%).

Yet shoppers who are thinking about returning items bought in the sale need to do their research as almost two-thirds (61%) admitted to not knowing when the returns window closes – meaning that many bargain punters risk being left out of pocket for items they won’t end up using.

While traditionally Boxing Day sees crowds flock to the high street and online in a bid to grab a deal, this year Barclaycard data shows that Friday 30 December 2016 was the busiest day for end of year sales shopping. This bumper day of retail saw the number of transactions increase by 23% compared to the same day in 2015, as shoppers hit the sales before the weekend’s New Year’s celebrations began.

Sharon Manikon, customer solutions managing director at Barclaycard, said: “Sales can be an inviting time for people to indulge in a quick purchase, particularly for items coveted before a reduction – which can be a very cost effective way to shop. But it can be a good idea to set a budget in advance, because as our data shows, many shoppers can’t resist an offer or promotion and end up impulse-buying items which they don’t really need, and later come to regret.

“Retailers apply different policies when it comes to allowing shoppers to return sale items for a refund – and some also mandate that discounted goods are non-refundable or only eligible for a gift note or exchange.  While impulse shopping can be fun, especially when big savings are made, shoppers should make sure they check returns policies before they part with their cash or else they risk losing more money than they thought they’d save!”