What Your Impulse Grocery Store Buys Say About You


You’re standing in the impossibly slow checkout line at Duane Reade, or the impossibly long Trader Joe’s line, and that shiny bag of candy is glimmering from a distance. You know you shouldn’t, but yet your eyes are fixed; not even the distress of the arguing couple in front of you could break the eye contact.

Finally the line moves up, and you’re a few steps closer to the prize. You know you don’t need it. You’re headed to the gym later anyways, but still you can’t resist. A few more steps and you’ve reached the register. The cashier swipes your items, and you’ve almost made it out alive when you reach down, grab the bag of candy calling your name, although surprisingly nobody else seems to hear it, and place it on the counter. She swipes it across, and you’re done.

You’ve fallen victim to the checkout line impulse purchase and there’s nothing you can do about it now.

If you’re one of these people, you wonder, why does nobody else seems to be buying these little gems of gold hiding below the registers? After all, they never seem to run out; it’s always fully stocked. Here are some potential explanations for why you may be falling victim.

You’re financially irresponsible.

Checkout line items are notoriously overpriced. If you know you’re a candy late afternoon pick-me-up kind of person, than the smart financial decision would be to make your purchase anywhere else but your local drugstore. If you know you’re a candy late afternoon pick-me-up kind of person and you’re still making impulse purchases in the checkout line, it may be time to take a deep hard look at your finances and re-asses your wasteful spending habits.

You’re motivated by extrinsic rewards.

If your checkout line purchase comes after a long day at the office, then you might be motivated by extrinsic rewards. “Get through the next hour, and you can have a treat.” If that sounds like you, it may be time to start making long-term goals in order to realize the big picture in life.

You are easily influenced.

Candy wrappers are enticing. They put those impulse purchase items right near the checkout where you have to stand in order to wait in line. They’re just mocking you, “eat me, eat me, eat me.” If you know you’re not a huge candy lover and yet you still find that you’re making these impulse purchases regularly, than you are easily influenced by the bright colors, happy characters and shiny packaging specifically designed to get you to pick it up.

In this case, the best remedy is to pick up the candy, hold it and put it down. You get the rush of considering the purchase, but none of the guilt. By the time you get home from the store, you’ll completely forget you even wanted the candy in the first place.

You’re adventurous.

For those of us who live by the book, always following the schedule, never stepping out of the routine, a checkout impulse purchase is a good thing. It means you’re making a choice outside of your plan. It demonstrates that you’re turning over a new leaf, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. You can also employ this strategy as you’re shopping throughout the store. If you see something that catches your eye, try it. If you try one new thing every time you head to the grocery store, you’re well on your way to rebellion.

You’re rebellious.

Sitting in the grocery cart as a little kid, your mom turned down your every request for something sweet in the checkout line. Now you can make your own rules, and you’re gonna buy whatever you want just because you can. Be weary though, your rebellion may morph into financial instability.

You have a lack of focus.

If you’re waiting in the check out line and your mind is racing with everything on your to-do list (from yesterday), it’s easy to doze off from your task ahead. As you approach the register, there’s candy in your basket that you don’t even remember picking up. If this is you, then you may be suffering from a lack of focus in your life. When you get into a routine, it’s possible to just go through the motion of things without even thinking.

Instead, try thinking about only the task ahead. As you’re waiting in line, go back through your list, mentally checking items off as you see them in your basket. Before long, it will be your turn at the checkout, and you’ll be out the door before the candy even had a chance.

You have an inability to delay gratification.

Most likely, if you’re making an impulse purchase in the checkout line, you’re going to eat it now versus later. Even if you have candy at home, you’re someone who is unable to wait. This may signify that you have a lack of impatience throughout all aspects of your life. If you practice delayed gratification with your impulse purchases, you may be able to develop more patience.

While an impulse purchase may be simply that, its more likely you are falling victim to the checkout line temptations for another reason. Look into your spending habits and see if you can make some minor adjustments; it may be significant to improving other aspects of your life.