Impulse buys are actually subconsciously planned

London: Don`t blame it on impulse when you end up buying unplanned items at a supermarket, as a new study has claimed that the `impulse buys` are actually planned by our subconscious.

Researchers at the Baylor University in Texas found that more than three-quarters of buyers set aside cash for items that are not on their shopping list -- a phenomenon called
"in-store slack".

According to them, we subconsciously plan for extra purchase and factor in extra cash for the items we have forgotten while preparing the list.

"For the majority of consumers, having in-store slack appears to be a rational way to use the store to cue needs and preserve self-control," said study researcher Kirk Wakefield.

"In contrast, in-store slack leads to overspending for highly impulsive individuals who shop in most aisles," Wakefield was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.

For their study, the researchers questioned shoppers at several grocery stores in Texas.

They were asked about the items they planned to purchase, how much they expected to spend on these items and how much they expected their total bill to come to.

After shopping, the volunteers provided their receipts and answered questions about themselves and the experience.

The researchers found that more than three-quarters had set aside cash for items that weren`t on their list.

Reasons given for deviating from their shopping list included `forgotten needs` and `unplanned wants` – things they had not realised they would need.

Others had actually factored in cash for impulse buys, according to the findings published in the Journal of Consumer Research.

Wakefield said: "Highly impulsive individuals may want to consider planning as many purchases in advance as possible."

In other words, those who lack willpower should write very detailed shopping lists. Dieters should also make lists with care, he advised.

The researchers also said that having in-store slack might also create a self-fulfilling prophecy where consumers buy unplanned items they don`t really need.

"Even if people subconsciously intend to use their slack for `forgotten needs`, many consumers are subject to temporary visceral urges such as hunger that may result in behaviours that are inconsistent with self-interests," the researchers said.

"As a result, they may ultimately spend in-store slack on unwanted or unhealthy items.

"If in-store slack leads to the purchase of more unhealthy items, this would suggest that individuals trying to restrict their eating should make the effort to fully plan every item they intend to purchase before going to the grocery store," they added.

The researchers also advised supermarkets to try to tempt customers into as many aisles as possible, in an effort to get them to blow their mental budget.