What purchases make you the happiest?

Photo (c) Kilito Chan - Getty Images

A survey finds many consumers engage in 'retail therapy' about four times a month

According to a new study, Americans consider that about 55% of their purchases are worth every penny and a significant 64% of respondents keep their fingers crossed, hoping that every single thing they buy makes them at least a little happy. 

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of the financial app Chime for National Finance Awareness Day, the survey also inquired about spending habits – impulsive or budgeted purchases, self-indulgence or necessity purchases.

Food and beverage tops the sought-after list with 51% of the consumers surveyed suggesting that they could probably live without those if need be. After food and beverages was clothing and accessories (39%), gifts for others (23%), beauty and self-care products (20%), as well as experiences like vacations or concert tickets (20%). 

'But, shopping makes me happy'

The problem is that consumers tend to lean on retail therapy maybe a bit too often. Respondents said they engage in these activities approximately four times a month on average, with a notable 66% agreeing that shopping and spending hold the potential to completely alter their mood, especially when they’re finally able to get something they’ve had their eye on for a while or on sale. However, this emotional high tends to last just about four hours. 

“Finding a little joy or satisfaction in their spending means a lot to people right now,” explained Chime’s chief experience officer Janelle Sallenave.

“When it's a gift or surprise for someone else, that tells us consumers are being extra thoughtful to ensure they’re investing in places and on things that matter most to them.”

Eyes on the real prize

When asked about their most valuable purchases, many participants highlighted transportation items like "cars," "vehicles," or "motorcycles."

Other purchases they pat themselves on the back for making are the ones that simplify their lives – like a "washer and dryer" and "airfryer." Interestingly, some personal investments were also mentioned, with one respondent even asserting that "major surgery on the family dog" was truly worth the expense, or in extreme cases, "my marriage license."

Consumers share how they make the best decisions

The consumers in the survey admitted that they are plagued by doubt no matter if they’re shopping in-store or doing it online. The in-store shoppers who struggle to make a decision usually verify that the item they want is exactly what they want four times.

Conversely, online shoppers check the size, price, and materials four different times.

Respondents typically plan their budget about three months in advance, but they will inevitably make about three unplanned purchases each month.

Where is retail taking a hit? Purchases like fast fashion and cheap clothing (26%), expensive decor and furniture (25%), subscriptions like meal kits or streaming services (25%) and toys and collectibles (25%) have been moved to the “maybe someday” category because in today’s economy, the respondents said those items just aren’t worth spending money on anymore.

"When you work hard for your money, you want to feel good about spending it. ‘I love paying for overdraft fees,’ said no one ever,” Sallenave remarked.

“That’s why we believe everyone deserves affordable and fair financial services. We do our best to help everyday people with basic fee-free services so that even when their spending doesn’t delight them, at least their experience spending does.”

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