Impulse shopping is now a $17.78bn market in the US, according to personal finance comparison site, Finder.com. 88.6% of American adults have fallen prey to the habit, with 64% of them doing so at least once a month, the study shows. The average spend is $81.45.
But what if that hasty desire to click and buy could be curtailed? Finder.com has launched a Google Chrome plugin that replaces the “buy now” button on 20 top e-commerce sites with a “put it on ice” option. That includes everyone from Amazon and eBay to Asos, Sephora, Macy’s, Gap and Zappos.
In a bid to help shoppers save money, it enables them to stop and think about their purchases for anywhere from three to 30 days. “Icebox” as the extension is called, also serves as a pop-up reminder on 400+ additional stores.
Finder.com’s consumer advocate, Jennifer McDermott, said: “With regret being the most popular experience after an impulse buy (44%), it is becoming apparent that we may need more than simply our will-power to say no to spending money on those unnecessary buys… When having the urge to buy something, by putting it on ice you can be confident in your decision when the waiting time is up. Reduce the likelihood of regret and stretch your dollar further.”
Beyond just saving, it also relates to the rapidly increasing issue of overconsumption in modern society. A study last year from McKinsey & Company, for instance, showed that annual clothing production exceeded 100 billion for the first time in 2014. It also highlighted that consumers now keep clothing items for about half as long as they did 15 years ago, and that nearly three-fifths of all clothing produced ends up in incinerators or landfills within a year of being made.
The question continuously then, is do we really need to keep on buying so many things? Despite the fact they are themselves commercial businesses, designer brands including Stella McCartney and Vetements have selected this theme as the focus of their recent campaigns. The former shot her latest advertising images in a Scottish landfill site in an attempt to highlight the issue of overconsumption and to demonstrate how single use and disposable items are wreaking havoc on our environment.
Vetements meanwhile filled several windows of Saks Fifth Avenue in New York with a pile of unwanted clothing. The Instagram-worthy idea from head designer Demna Gvasalia was equally intended to represent the notion of overconsumption in fashion, calling us all to offset the excess in our lives.
The Finder.com plugin is aimed at all demographics, though interestingly Baby Boomers lead the way with impulsive spending, sitting at an average session of $174.25, compared to Millennials at $82.37 and Gen X at $65.56. That said, Millennials are the most likely to feel pressured into making an impulsive purchase (8%) by friends, store associates and online prompts, compared to 5% of Gen X and 2% of baby boomers, meaning they may be the best placed to appreciate the benefits of putting purchases on ice.
Icebox is available for free download from the Chrome webstore on desktop only, with plans to roll out on Safari, Firefox and mobile devices soon.
This post first appeared on Forbes