So it turns out drunken shopping is a thing in the US

  • TECH
  • Thursday, 11 Apr 2019

Stock image of a couple drinking and online shopping. (Dreamstime/TNS)

The drinks were flowing freely when Charlie Woodman won a bar trivia contest last summer – whiskey, probably, since that's what he orders when others are buying – and he was in high spirits by the time he made it back to the Fremont residence he shares with a roommate. 

Watching YouTube, he saw something that awed him: a person playing Bohemian Rhapsody on a tiny Japanese synthesizer called an Otamatone. 

"That is amazing," he said to himself. "You know what I'm going to do? I'm going to buy that." 

And he did. For US$30 (RM123). 

One week later, a box arrived with a "small, almost entirely useless, niche synthesiser that looks like a singing-note Muppet". To work it, he said, you squeeze the mouth-like bulb at the bottom and the device emits a single synthesised note. 

The 29-year-old used to tease his roommate for spending a lot of money on synthesisers. Not anymore. When tempted now, he looks at his desk, where the "worst one in the world sits stoutly reminding me not to make similar mistakes". 

In Washington, residents are estimated to spend an average of US$400-US$499 (RM1,637-RM2,042) annually during drunk shopping sprees, according to statistics portal Statista. And we're not alone. That dollar figure is right in line with the national US average of about US$450 (RM1,842) per year. 

Much as it dominates the sober-shopping world, Amazon is the preferred platform for buzzed buyers as well, used by a whopping 85% of them. The runners-up are eBay, with 21% of the tipsy market share, and Etsy with 12%, according to Statista. The most common purchases made while inebriated are clothing and shoes, followed by movies and games. 

The stats come from a survey of 2,174 people, conducted in March by The Hustle. The survey showed that, overall, nearly 80% of respondents admitted to making at least one drunken purchase in their lifetime, contributing to what is estimated to be a US$45bil (RM184.24bil) market. 

The average respondent was 36 years old and had an income of US$92,000 (RM376,684), more than twice the national average, according to The Hustle, and respondents were slightly more likely to be men than women. 

Stephanie Soule, 24, of Bothell, was channelling the "treat yourself" state of mind from the show Parks and Recreation while when she drunkenly ordered not just honey, but an entire honeycomb. 

"My curiosity is piqued when inebriated," she said. "I think, 'Let's do it!'" 

But in reality, "It was not what I expected. You had to chew all the wax off." 

And although Seattle resident Anne Thayer's impairment was caused not by alcohol but by a sleeping medication, she understands the bewilderment of an unexpected package. 

Six years ago, Thayer took an Ambien one night and ended up buying 32 bags of roasted-chicken-flavoured potato chips on Amazon. 

"I had no recollection of the purchase, so imagine my surprise when a giant box of potato chips arrived at my house," she said in an email. "The chips were mediocre. I don't take Ambien anymore." – The Seattle Times/Tribune News Service

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