Shopping Hungry Will Empty Your Wallet, Study Says

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – You’ve heard the advice, don’t grocery shop on an empty stomach.

Now a new study from the University of Minnesota says that’s not the only kind of shopping you should avoid if you’re hungry.

University of Minnesota Assistant Professor Alison Jing Xu analyzed people’s non-food purchasing habits while hungry.

“The most basic message is, ‘Don’t go shopping with an empty stomach,’” Xu said.

She said an empty stomach may lead to an empty wallet.

“In current research we find out that the effect of hunger on people’s spending behavior can generalize to other domains,” Xu said.

She found that a growling stomach doesn’t increase the appeal of inedible items; rather, it seems to activate a need to acquire something.

“When you’re hungry, you’re thinking about seeking, acquiring and consuming foods,” she said. “This process would put thoughts related to acquisition on your mind and put you in the mode of getting something, anything.”

The number the study revealed is significant: It showed that people bought 64 percent more if shopping while hungry.

Years in the making, the idea came from Xu’s personal experience.

“After a long day of shopping, I went to a restaurant,” she said. “I felt so hungry and started eating, and as I ate, I started regretting what I purchased. I purchased ten pairs of tights, and I only needed two. Why?”

Xu has some advice for consumers. As you would imagine, she says you should eat before shopping.

But she also has advice to retailers. She says offer discounts during, and right before, mealtimes in order to snag hungry shoppers.

More from Natalie Nyhus
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