Drunken spending costs Brits £4.5 billion a year

Almost half of the 15 million British adults who enjoy a regular drink may have bought something online while under the influence of alcohol, a survey has found.

The average spend could be as high as £291 per person, which equates to £4.46 billion across the population as a whole. Men on average spend over £150 more than women. Millennials are most likely to shop while drunk.

Top of the list of drunken purchases is food, accounting for 23% of spending. Shoes, clothing and accessories come next (14%), while gambling accounts for roughly 10% of drunken online spending, and cigarettes slightly less (8.5%).

The study found that men had a total average spend of £364.72 compared to £213.41 for women.

From a generational perspective, almost three in five millennial drinkers (60%) admit to going online and spending money when they’ve had a few too many drinks. Gen Xers come in second, followed by nearly one in three Baby Boomers.

The research was conducted by price comparison site Finder, among 2,000 British adults.

Apps to help curb spending

If you’re worried that you might be one of the 15 million people who find it hard to resist temptation after a few drinks, there are apps you can use to bolster your self control.

Icebox is a Google Chrome extension that lets you put potential purchases “on ice,” giving you more time to decide whether you really want them. The “cooling off period” gives you a chance to reconsider, and the app works on more than 400 online shops.

Cold Turkey Blocker is not strictly a shopping blocker, but it can be used to block websites which you find distracting, so that you can get more done.

Likewise Freedom is a paid-for service which blocks time-wasting websites to help you become more productive. You can schedule in times when you want to avoid having access to certain websites.

Is wearable technology the key?

In development is an app called DrnkPay that connects your credit and debit cards to a breathalyser or wearable device so that it knows how much you’ve drunk. It can then block payments and cards for 12 hours, and has a feature that allows you to order an Uber cab to get you home safely.

DrnkPay is based on research that shows people spend more when it’s easier to make purchases, particularly when it’s on plastic and doesn’t feel like real money.

If you wake up and regret your purchases

Thankfully, you have 14 days to cancel normal goods and services. You can contact the seller before the goods are dispatched in order to cancel the order.

This is thanks to the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, which came into effect in June 2014 and extends the amount of time you have to cancel products or services you have bought online.

If you have purchased a service, the provider should not start providing the service before the end of the 14-day cancellation period, unless you specifically ask them to do so.

Did you find this useful?

Last updated: 31 May, 2019