Americans spent an average of $448 per person on drunk purchases per haul in 2017
Surprise! You ordered a bunch of stuff you don’t remember ordering online.
If you’ve ever woken up after a night of drinking with a headache and some alarming bank notifications, you aren’t alone: Nearly half of American adults admit to regularly shopping while drunk — and it appears to be getting worse.
Americans spent an average of $448 per person on drunk purchases in 2017, nearly double what they did in 2016, a new survey of 2,000 adults from shopping comparison site Finder.com found. That would equate to billions of dollars on drunk shopping per year nationwide, the authors said. Men are responsible for more drunk spending than women: $564 versus $282. Generation X spent the most on drunk purchases, averaging $738 last year — more than triple the amount ($206) that millennials spent.
So what are people buying while under the influence?
Everything from clothing to gambling, the study found. Some 61% of shoppers say they drunkenly spend on food. The next most common purchases are shoes and clothes (26%) and gambling (25%). Hannah Rimm, a 25-year-old social media manager in New York said she regularly makes $100 hauls on online clothing retailer ASOS only to return the clothes as soon as she sees what she’s bought. “Drunk me has weird taste,” she said.
Lindsey Hamma, a wedding planner based in New York City, bids on strange clothes and jewelry on eBay EBAY, -0.57% while drinking, including rare Puma brand sneakers that were ultimately too small and a box of expensive costume jewelry. Another told MarketWatch she spent more than $300 on Christmas decorations, including 500 candy canes. “I had those candy canes for two years!” she said. Kate Bennis, a video producer in New York brought her cat a mini police officer costume one night after having some drinks. She said it’s one of the best things she ever bought.
Retailers are in on the trend, even adding more sales after 9 p.m. to encourage traffic from drunk purchasers. Shopping is only one component of alcohol cost: The drinks themselves are expensive too. Americans spent $225 billion on alcohol in 2016, up from $175 billion in 2007, according to separate data from Euromonitor International, a market-research firm.
The average American household spends $970 per year on alcohol
According to personal-finance site ValuePenguin, and $3,935 a year on groceries (including $384 on non-alcoholic beverages). The Finder.com survey estimates Americans spend double that on alcohol ($2,000 a year).
How can you avoid a financial hangover?
The obvious answer: Return the items when you sober up, said Madison Reed, a spokeswoman at personal-finance site ValuePenguin. “Returns are still the most hassle-free way to get your money back,” she said. But if that doesn’t work, get in touch with your credit-card issuer to see if they offer returns protection. Usually, the protection only applies to purchases that have been made in the U.S. and limit the dollar amount per item that can be returned.
Consumers can also preempt the problem with technology:
DrnkPay connects to debit cards and limits user purchases if they have spent a certain amount at a bar on a given night. For consumers who don’t want to link a debit card, Cold Turkey is a good option, said retail expert and business author Michael Parrish DuDell. Using Cold Turkey will block certain apps and websites, even if the user deletes the app.
And still, drinking doesn’t always lead to poor financial decisions. Some consumers recently reported paying off credit cards, upping 401k contributions, and making other positive financial decisions after having too much to drink.