British consumers spend £21.7 billion on impulse purchases each year

More than half of consumers admit to making impulse purchases they didn't plan on making, every time they go shopping, a new study reveals.

Britons spend an estimated £21.7 billion on impulse purchases each year, according to new research.

The majority of British consumers have revealed they can’t resist making impulse purchases even when they are not on their list of items they need. It was also found that £416 is spent on impulse purchases in a year by the average Briton.

The team at DisplayMode conducted the research into Britons’ attitudes towards the retail sector and consumer spending habits. A total of 2,512 UK-based consumers, all aged 18 and over, were polled as part of the study.

All respondents were initially asked if they ever make impulse purchases when shopping, to which all stated they do. Following on from this, respondents were asked how often they find themselves buying something impulsively; 54 per cent admit they did so every time they went shopping.

Nearly two thirds (62 per cent) say they were items that they ‘wanted not needed’, 21 per cent claim they were items they did not need but thought ‘they might come in handy’ and the remaining 16 per cent say they were always items they believed they need.

Researchers asked whether participants had items at home that they’d impulsively bought, that they have never used and were planning to throw out, to which 71 per cent state they did.  The average amount of money spent on impulse buys was £8.

Taking this into account and assuming that the average Briton would spend £416 on each year, researchers took figures from the Office Of National Statistics to calculate that adult Britons spend an estimated £21.7 billion on impulse purchases annually.

Leon Edwards, managing director at, thinks that buying items that we previously weren’t planning to spend money on is something we are all guilty of from time to time, and with Christmas just around the corner it’s now prime time to try and resist the temptation of an impulse buy!

Edwards adds, ‘Psychologically we often feel that, if something is on offer or is going out of stock, we have to buy it right now or else we’ll miss out further down the line. Retailers have to realise that how they present their products really does affect consumers’ decisions. The displays could be the difference between a purchase and no purchase.

‘Small businesses should definitely be concentrating their efforts on figuring out what displays work and what they can be doing to maximise their chances to see a massive surge in impulse buys this festive season!’

Further reading on consumer spending

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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