Spending money late at night on things you don’t really need? Beware ‘vampire shopping’.

17 Jan Spending money late at night on things you don’t really need? Beware ‘vampire shopping’.

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As we come out of the Christmas season, and on through the January sales, many of us will be seeing an increase in the number of packages delivered to our door on a weekly (sometimes daily..) basis. This phenomenon of excessive spending is not a seasonal issue. If we’re honest, we all know that come February and March we will all still be scrolling through clothes, home improvement and pet care sites, buying things we don’t really need. Compared to just 10 years ago we are buying exponentially more, and now those purchases have been moved online, removing the friction of in-person shopping trips of yore. It’s not simply a lack of willpower either, we are being manipulated into late night sprees we can’t afford with the same techniques used to hook us into social media: we are vampire shopping.

What is Vampire Shopping?

Vampire shopping is the act of online shopping late at night, usually between 1 and 4am. It is characterised by shopping largely from your bed, making more purchases than you would at any other time. Often buying things you may realise the next day were not entirely essential. If that sounds familiar, you are not alone. Over 1/3 of shoppers now spend more money at night than during the day. Perhaps not surprisingly the over-represented groups in the vampire shopping category are gamers and sleep deprived parents. It has become more and more prevalent because of the ease of spending money online: just one click away if you use ApplePay, “It doesn’t feel like real money” as one self-confessed vampire shopper exclaimed.

Why is it a problem?

Vampire shopping is a problem because it is characterised by buying things we don’t actually need, and haven’t thought enough about, because we make the decision in the stupor of late night scrolling. Not only that, but we are much more likely to make bad financial decisions later in the evening. If you scroll at night instead of during the day research shows you’re likely to spend 20% more. In a country like the UK, where our hours of night are greatly increased in the winter months this can mean that shoppers spend nearly 2.5 hours shopping at night in winter compared to 1.5 hours in the summer.

are you vampire shopping late at night?

How to stop

If, like thousands of shoppers around the world, this is no longer sustainable for you – have no fear. We have some advice which should stop your late night sprees in their steps:

  1. Remove all your card details from auto-fill online and from any eWallet you may have. This reintroduces the friction which would exist in real life and gives you a second to evaluate your purchase.
  2. Leave the items in your basket overnight: if you are shopping late at night it is highly unlikely that what you want will have sold out tomorrow so give yourself a night’s sleep before you make the purchase: you will be surprised how frequently you decide you really don’t need it come sun up.
  3. Check in with yourself: if you are feeling Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired it’s time to HALT your late-night scrolling, and try and get some sleep.
digital detox book`; `My Brain Has Too Many Tabs Open'

If you want to learn more about ‘vampire shopping’ and the many other ways in which our digital habits are changing our lives, pick up Tanya Goodin’s new book: ‘My Brain Has Too Many Tabs Open’.

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