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Mobile drives ‘spontaneous spenders’ who regret impulse purchases and drive returns, finds Barclaycard

Mobile makes shopping in store and online much more convenient, but one unforeseen upshot is that it encourages spontaneous spending, which shoppers come to quickly regret – and then return goods worth billions of pounds.

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, driven by the convenience of mobile shopping, six in ten UK shoppers 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%).

And mobile is making it worse. Sharon Manikon, Customer Solutions Managing Director at Barclaycard explains: Impulse shoppers have been traditionally associated with buying in-store when an offer or sale is on, but for those looking to secure a bargain from the comfort of their home or while on the go, mobile commerce can be more convenient and appealing. The simple payment and delivery options available through m-commerce are attractive for shoppers, but also present a lucrative opportunity for retailers to connect with the always-on and increasingly connected consumer.”

She continues: “M-commerce is continuing to rise and with more than half of all online sales now made on a mobile device, retailers need to ensure their apps and mobile sites provide a frictionless shopping experience. Impulse shoppers won’t hang around if your site is difficult to navigate or it takes too long to pay – customers will simply go elsewhere. By tapping into the ‘impulse’ trend, retailers can not only increase sales in the short-term but also generate loyalty to keep spontaneous spenders returning time and again.”

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 December 30th 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.

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