Why we buy clothes on impulse – and how to stop


General Finance

When you’re trying to stick to a budget, it can be difficult to resist the temptation of making impulse buys whenever you hit the shops. If you frequently come home with bags full of fashion purchases you hadn’t planned on, you’re not alone. Recent research conducted for us* found that three in 10 Brits admitted they’d spend cash on clothes on a whim, making this the most popular impulse purchase.

Why fashion is so addictive

So why is it that so many of us can’t resist the lure of a new pair of trainers or jeans? There can be many reasons. Sometimes it’s just as simple as that people love shopping, and they love clothes. Treating yourself to a new wardrobe can give you a boost and can make you feel happy. However, it’s usually a pretty short-lived feeling and wears off quickly – especially when it comes to the end of the month and you take a look at your finances.

Not all of us are fashion victims and need to be seen in the latest trend. Often, us Brits love a bargain and don’t know how to turn down a good deal. If you spot a sale or a 3 for 2 offer, you could think that you’ll feel bad later if you don’t buy it. We can convince ourselves that it’s good value and, as that pair of shoes is so cheap, we’re saving money by buying them at a low price. Remember – if you hadn’t planned to buy something in the first place, you’re not saving anything by spending more money!

Put the brakes on

If you’re trying to be strict with your finances, planning out a careful budget can help. However, it’s sticking to it that can be the tricky part, and it will be only made harder if you’re tempted by attractive looking offers when you’re doing your shopping.

Beat the impulse to spend your cash by making a ‘cooling off’ rule with yourself. Next time you’re tempted to buy new clothes when you hadn’t budgeted for them, leave it for a week or even a month. If you still want it by the end of that period, you can treat yourself. More often than not, you’ll have gone off the idea, and you’ll save on buying clothes that you don’t really want.

When you’re doing your supermarket shopping, you can easily be seduced by clothes on sale, especially as they’re usually so cheap. Stop this urge by bypassing the clothing aisles completely – you won’t be tempted by what you don’t see. You might be tempted to impulse buy when you’re browsing online, so steer clear of your favourite fashion websites. Unsubscribe from fashion retailers’ mailing lists, as emails full of great looking clothes can often prove too hard to resist.

It could help if you have an end goal in mind, so give yourself something to save for – maybe next year’s holiday or a mortgage deposit. Next time you’re debating whether or not to get that jumper or pair of sunglasses, think of what you’re saving for and it could help you say no. Remember, saving can be as fun as spending – as long as you treat yourself sometimes.

*OnePoll questioned a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults aged 18 and over between 24Th July and 31st July 2014, of whom 620 were Scottish residents.

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