Shoppers spend 41% more in supermarkets if distracted by their mobile

Retailers have long fought to grab shoppers’ attention within their first steps inside a supermarket. But new research finds distracted customers could play into retailers’ favour.

Studies undertaken by the University of Bath found people that were distracted by their mobile phones during a trip to the supermarket saw their shopping bill rise by an average of 41 per cent.

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The mindless overspending was attributed to shoppers losing their focus when faced with decision making, and wandering along more aisles, spending more time in store.

This gave them more opportunity to come across different products, and resort to autopilot decision making when not fully focused on their shopping.

In one of the university’s studies, 294 people aged between 18 and 73 at four Swedish supermarkets were given eye-tracking glasses throughout a shopping trip to measure where they went, and what they looked at.

When assessing their receipts, the study found those using a mobile phone spent on average £33.73 compared to an average of £23.91 for those who did not.

A second study of 117 shoppers found those using mobile phones spent longer in the store, leading to more purchases, and gave more attention to shelves. They also spent an average of £36.

This study found shoppers using a mobile phone spent on average £36.16 on 20.85 items, compared to £25.59 on 13.22 products.

“Retailers have tended to worry that when shoppers use their mobiles it’s distracting them from spending money, so we were amazed to find completely the reverse effect,” said University of Bath’s School of Management, Dr Carl-Philip Ahlbom.

“The findings were very clear – the more time you spend on your phone, the more money you’ll part with.

“So if you’re trying to budget, leave your phone in your pocket. It’s not the phone itself that causes more purchases, but its impact on our focus.”

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