Survey: Americans curb their drunk shopping habit

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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It won’t result in a suspended driver’s license, but Americans are cutting back on drinking and shopping, with much lower spending levels.

According to the latest Drunk Shopping survey from personal finance site Finder, more than one-fifth (21%) of U.S. adult consumers admit to shopping under the influence. The percentage of respondents that admitted to buying under the influence has slowly decreased from 26% in 2019 to 23% in 2020, to 21% in the most recent survey. 

The average drunk shopper is also spending a lot less. Respondents spent an average of $423.73 on drunk purchases this year, down 45% from $768.58 the previous year. Collectively, Americans spent $21.6 billion on drunk purchases in the past 12 months, down 52% from the previous year’s $44.9 billion.

Not too surprisingly, food is the most common drunk purchase. More than eight in 10 (81%) of drunk shoppers admit to purchasing food while drunk, followed by apparel including shoes, clothes and accessories at 60%, cigarettes at 59%, gambling at 54%, and DVD/movies/streaming service at 47%. One unexpectedly popular drunk purchase is cars, a product category which 30% of drunk shoppers have bought.  

The survey also demonstrates that drunk shopping skews male and young. Almost three in 10 (29%) men admit to drunk shopping, with male drunk shoppers spending an average of $489.54. The top purchase for men under the influence is food (86%), followed by cigarettes (69%) and gambling (64%).

Significantly fewer women (15%) admitted to drunk shopping than men, with female drunk shoppers spending an average of $303 on their purchases during the past year. The top drunk purchase among women was food (70%), with shoes, clothes, or accessories coming in second (56%), and cigarettes third (39%).

Looking at the age of drunk shoppers, millennials were the generation most prone to drunk shopping (36%). Following millennials were Gen Z (30%), Gen X (26%) and baby boomers (8%). 

Although drunk shopping was the most prevalent among millennials, Gen X was the generation that actually spent the most on average among drunk shoppers. However, all generations spent less drunk shopping this year compared to last year. Gen X drunk shoppers spent an average of $521.57 compared to last year’s average of $797.49. Following Gen X are millennials ($475.75), baby boomers ($274.62), and Gen Z ($201.44).

By region, the West showed the highest percentage of people admitting to drunk shoppers with 25% of respondents in the West saying they had drunk shopped in the past year, spending an average of $486.52. This was followed by the 22% of the people drunk shopping in Northeast, and 20% in the South and Midwest.

Finder’s data is based on a paid online survey of 1,800 U.S. adults born between 1928 and 2002.