IMPULSE BUYING

Bruce Rowland, Proprietor, Bog Island News, Terrace Walk, Bath,
on 27 November 2003

Two separate aspects of this subject made the discussion topical.

First, the general agreement that retailing played an important and growing role in sustaining the strength of the national economy. Impulse buying was an important part of retailing in this country. Yet there had been a call for a Don’t Buy Day from churchmen, environmentalists and others who pointed out that 20 % of the world’s population consumed 80% of its resources.

Secondly, there was a general concern tha buying on credit, especially with credit cards, fuelled impulse buying, which led to a growth of debt that was expensive to service and a burden, particularly for young people.

Mr Rowland dealt with the general aspect of the economy and then explained how the positioning of stock for sale on the shelf and on the counter affected sale of particular items.

In a lively discussion in which everyone took part there was analysis of what made people engage in impulse buying. Buyers made purchases, particularly of clothes, to enhance their personalities. There was also the thrill of getting a bargain Shopping was a recognised leisure activity and played an important role in the economics of tourism, including in Bath.

There was much discussion on the use of credit cards and peoples outlook towards saving and spending. In twenty years there had been a major change. Parents in the past had encouraged thrift whilst bringing up children, and saving up to buy something was the norm; now it was exceptional. Yet Mr Rowland himself and one ortwo others present avoided the use of credit cards.

The meeting looked back to a time when the Government of the day would issue regulations on, for example, the size of the deposit a buyer had to find for a hire-purchase transaction. There were laws on the maximum rate of interest money-lenders could charge. But it seemed unlikely we would go back to those days.

In conclusion, it was agreed that home economics in the education of the young was to be encouraged.

Rodney Tye